Tuesday, December 20, 2011

collars, buttons, laces

Confession: I have a new obsession. It's buying stuff. That part is not new, I've always loved some good retail therapy. But now I'm buying baby clothes like they're going to stop making them as of December 31st. This baby isn't even born, he doesn't have a crib or a bottle or one of those things that sucks boogers out of his nose. But he has an aviator jacket, jeans in multiple shades, adorable onesies in stripes and solids and tiny prints, lace-up shoes, and Nike shorts with matching t-shirts.

I can't walk by a store that sells baby clothes without just peeking at the infant boy racks. I think I love baby clothes more than buying my own clothes. Maybe it's because I'll never have to try them on. Maybe it's because it's not cheesy for babies to be color-coded and matching. I told Steve yesterday was the last time I would buy baby clothes until after my baby shower. My baby shower that doesn't yet have a date. Do you believe that? I can't believe I said it. Well, I can believe I said it because sometimes I make promises that I don't keep. This might be one of those...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

sanity-retrieving rituals

I came home tonight from a long stressful day of work on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I'm a nervous kind of person - that's what they used to call nearly-insane people before they had titles for them like "bipolar" and "manic" and "depressed."

I haven't felt myself lately. I can always tell when I'm out of my element because I stop writing and read fewer books and get less sleep and become agitated even more easily. This occurs when I feel I can't be myself because of social pressures: the requirements of lying and talking and listening when you don't want to.

I am constantly doing things and saying things and listening to things that I don't want to because it's what is expected of me. And it's making me crazy. My kind of heaven would be a place where everyone is free to be themselves without judgement and prodding from people to be someone else. A place with no such thing as obligation. I don't think there's anything I hate more than obligation. And I hate a lot of things.

I came home and ate dinner and told Steve I love him but I was just going to be alone for awhile in a hot bath. So I sat in the warm water and began to read one of my favorite books, The Bell Jar (also about a nervous young woman). I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath, I read. To me there is no greater cure for a full mind than solitude. So I sat in the water with my book about a girl as crazy as me, if not more so. I didn't listen or talk to anyone. I let the solitude wash me clean and back to myself.

I must be a less resilient person than most, because I know of quite a few people with much more stressful lives than me that handle it all with ease--god damn grace, nearly--with seemingly no sanity-retrieving rituals of their own. But not me. I'm not graceful or poised or resilient. I'm frantic and moody and stressed. So I do what I can to reclaim a little bit of myself when I no longer recognize my own reflection in the mirror.

Then I made my way back downstairs, prepared a cup of hot chocolate, and sat down to write. That's how I knew I had returned.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

giving thanks

Since every blogger in the world is writing about what they're thankful for, maybe I should, too. Not because I'm a band wagoner, but because I never really do stop and think of what I'm thankful for. I'm much more likely to bitch about what I'm ungrateful about. But in the spirit of holiday cheer, I'm thankful for:

1. My loving husband. I've often heard that I'm lucky I found Stephen because I'm a hard person to love. Screw them; I'm awesome. But I really am lucky I have Stephen. He is my other half. He makes me complete, as cheesy as it is.

2. My family: immediate, in-laws, and extended. Although we've got our fair share of crazies, I'm a part of a family who wants to best for each other. We celebrate triumphs and milestones together and encourage one another to become better people. Some succeed, some fail, some don't even try. But the point is, if you are motivated to do something with your life, you will have plenty of cheerleaders telling you you can do it along the way.

3. Gracie's parents. I'm grateful every day that they love my daughter as their own, provide for her what I couldn't, and give her a childhood in a happy, loving, complete family. I'm grateful for their unconditional love without judgment. I wish there were more people like them: more people whose family bonds extended beyond biological connections.

4. Our future son who has been kicking me to remind me he will be arriving soon.

5. Our house that we will become a family in. Our house that is our home.

6. My job that provides me a way to pay the bills and go to the dentist and deliver a baby in a hospital. I bitch about working a lackey job and will always hope to become a writer, but I have to admit that having a regular paycheck I can depend on is nothing to sneeze at.

7. Friends that I can bitch to when I'm feeling ungrateful, who will remind me there are things to be grateful for.

8. Hobbies that make me smile and realize I've been frowning.

9. A whole slew of other little joys that arrive in life, and make me realize how lucky I am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

our baby has an identity

Since the day we found out we were expecting, Steve and I began picking out boy names. But let me back that up even further: since I was a girl, I didn't imagine my perfect wedding, instead I imagined my perfect family which consisted of a loving husband and me and two boys. The only other scenario included a girl as a third child if we got crazy and wanted a big family.

Little boys who like football and wear Miami Dolphins jerseys on Sundays while watching the game with their dad. Little boys who are rambunctious and like to run around and get into things and play rough. Little boys who wear polo shirts and sweater vests and adorable shoes. Little boys who push around a toy lawn mower next to their dad and ask for cars and Legos for Christmas. Little boys who love their mommy and idolize their daddy. Those are what I always wanted.

I am not girly. I've always gotten along better with boys. The girls I'm friends with are fine with me not being girly. They don't ask me to get manicures. They don't expect me to keep my hair looking cute. Some of my best friends have been boys. My dog is a boy. I'm more comfortable around testosterone than estrogen. Estrogen makes me nervous and fidgety. Steve is a man's man that likes sports and beer has learned to do handy tasks around the house. We would have nothing in common with a little girl.

I was interested in those wives' tales that claim to accurately predict your baby's gender. But the Chinese calendar said I was having a girl. My cravings said I was having a girl. My face breaking out said I was having a girl. The only thing that pointed to me having a boy was my own wives' tale that if you don't have morning sickness, it's a boy. I quickly gave up on those stupid wives' tales since they wouldn't tell me what I wanted to hear (if they had predicted a boy though, I would have believed them as seriously as some do a religion).

Everyone who knows I'm pregnant has asked me if I want a girl or a boy and I always reply without hesitation and with an exclamation point: "BOY!" I know I'm supposed to only want a healthy baby and the gender shouldn't matter, but I'm much too honest of a person to give a fake answer like that. I mean, I want it to be healthy of course, I just prefer it to be a healthy boy.

The last couple weeks, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of this baby being a girl. I asked Steve last night, "what would be fun about having a girl?" and he said, "everything."
"You can't think of a single thing!" I moaned. I always think lack of specifics means nothing specific. Everything means nothing to me. I tried to come up with some girl names that I liked, and nothing stuck. I have one bizarre name that I would consider for a girl, but no one else likes it and maybe it's better no baby gets stuck with it. My list of boys names just gets longer.

Today was our Ultrasound day. Today was finally the day we found out the gender. Steve and I both took the day off of work in excitement. The Ultrasound tech busied herself with dull shit like measuring the head and making sure our baby was growing at a normal rate, blah, blah. I tried to act interested, but the whole time I was trying to interpret the spots into private parts. At one point, I saw the outline of the pelvic bone and my heart leaped as I thought it looked like a male pelvis.

"Do you want to find out the gender or do you want to wait?" she asked. "Tell us! We want to know!" I blurted out uncontrollably. I looked at Steve and he nodded in agreement. She found the baby's butt but couldn't see between the legs. A lump formed in my throat as I prepared for the answer. What if it was a girl? I wasn't ready for that to be her response. I only wanted her to tell me the gender if the gender was male. After what seemed like an eternity, she got a shot between the legs, and there it was in all its tiny glory: a scrotum.

Steve and I smiled widely at each other. It was like the day we found this house and couldn't stop smiling. It was just what we'd hoped for. We immediately texted everyone in our contact lists. Everyone who knows us at all knows it's what we wanted. So here we are: it's getting dark out and I still haven't stopped smiling. I'm just so thankful that we're going to have a tiny Steve running around here soon. It definitely beats a mini-Holly any day. He is the better half of us, hands down.

The first woman a little boy falls in love with is his mom.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It's that time of year again: the time when I read The Catcher in the Rye and start saying "god damn" in every god damn sentence. Every year when I read it, I want to start writing in J.D. Salinger style. So tonight I wrote this:

Up until a year ago, I drove a yellow 1990 Honda CRX. I loved that car. I bought it when I was 18, right before I moved away to college. I have always liked yellow cars, even though I really do hate the color yellow. But a yellow car, I thought that meant something: like its owner was real unique or special in some way.

In college, my friends would mock my yellow car and call it stupid names like the taxi or the banana-mobile. They were so creative, calling something that’s yellow a name of something else that’s yellow. I have terrible taste in friends, I really do. If you want to know the truth, I wouldn’t have any friends at all if I didn’t get so lonely by myself all the time.

But even though they mocked it, they still all wanted me to drive them around in it. A lot of them didn’t have their own cars on account of being from out-of-state and all. I guess they thought it gave them a free pass to not have to be responsible and provide their own transportation, but I didn’t buy it. I just thought they were lazy.

I bit my tongue hundreds of times when my classmates would be in the passenger seat while I drove them around on their errands, and would say they had a car back home. I'm surprised I have a tongue at all anymore, with how much I chewed it up. No they didn’t. They were just talking about their parents’ car they drove around. The only way any of these people would have a car was if their parents bought it for them. I was the only one out of all my friends who was already a responsible adult capable of paying for car repairs and holding down a job that required working more than 10 hours a week.

If I didn’t bite my tongue, I wouldn’t have any friends at all. If I told people what I was thinking every time I was thinking something, I would offend a whole roomful of people. I really do have an opinion about everything. And no one wants to hear your opinion if they don’t have the same one.

Last year I traded in my yellow CRX. I really didn’t want to. I guess I knew the day would come at some point, but I wasn’t prepared for it. I thought I would drive that car until it was smoking and a spark plug sparked and I had to jump out of the cab before the entire engine exploded. But it never came to that and I traded it in anyway. The car salesman was a young pimply boy about the age I was when I bought that car in the first place.

He offered me $800 for it and I looked at him like he was crazy. “You know that will be the only thing that still exists after the Apocalypse,” I said. He looked at me like he didn’t even know what the Apocalypse was. He probably didn’t. He looked like a real moron.

“Well, most people would offer you less than that, it’s pretty old and it’s got a lot of miles,” he said. I wanted to tell him his mom was old and had a lot of miles, but I thought better of it. 'Just keep your mouth shut and buy your responsible, dependable new car,' I told myself. Plus, his mom probably wasn’t all that old, any way; probably just a couple years older than me. Now that was a depressing thought: that if I got pregnant right after I had my first period, I could have a kid almost the age of this pimply car salesman. I kept thinking about that while I signed these thousands of documents they kept shoving in my face.

I left my yellow car in the lot next to all those shiny new models. It looked so sad and dirty and old next to its showoff neighbors. No one was going to buy it. The car dealership was probably just going to sell the parts or auction it off. I felt like I betrayed my car that had never betrayed me. My loyalty was only worth a measly $800. I was real emotional about the whole thing. I even cried while I drove off in my new car.

Not the feeling you’re supposed to have when you get a new car, I suppose. I suppose you should be busy setting your radio presets, because everyone who gets a new car immediately sets the radio presets. But not me: I’m a nostalgic kind of person. If I see moon pies at a gas station, I’ll buy twenty of them. I didn’t even set my presets for a whole month. I would just drive in silence while mourning my CRX and hating the new car smell everyone else is so crazy about.

(To read the real-life version of my car-selling story and see how I can't write about anything I don't know about first-hand, click here.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I am one feisty pregnant woman. I'm always feisty. But being hormonal gives me an even bigger attitude. Just what I need. I am the only person you know who would get in a fight with the McDonald's manager at the drive-thru window. My friend and I wanted ice cream, and since my first love, Dairy Queen, was closed, we had to settle for McFlurries. We placed our order.

And we waited. And waited. "How long does it take to toss some M&Ms into ice cream?" I groaned, blaming the baby for my impatience, but knowing the little one had nothing to do with it. "This has taken a while," Marie answered while eying the receipt. "It says here that we placed our order at 10:46."

"It's 10:56!" I cried incredulously. "10 fucking minutes for two McFlurries? This is insane!" At that, I straightened myself and peered into the window, trying to see what the hold up was. I contorted my body to see the ice cream machine, and there was a girl with a bad attitude staring back at me. "She is in no hurry!" I exclaimed while slumping back into sitting position. "Just taking her sweet time and giving me the stink eye."

Marie didn't have time to warn me that the manager was opening the window. "Yes ma'am?" he asked, annoyed. I didn't know what to say to that. Was that a question? I didn't respond. "What can I do for you?" He rephrased. "I'm just waiting for my food," I said, and of course I threw in the shrugged shouldered-open palm-raised eyebrow gesture to show just how stupid his question was. I'm in a drive thru. I have been for ten minutes. I'm not eating. What do you think you can help me with?

"Yes, we're working on it," he said. No apology. No explanation for the hold-up. No free Monopoly pieces. Jack shit. A waste of opening the window. Finally, he brought the two McFlurries. I grabbed them impatiently and drove off in a roar. Marie stopped trying to stifle her laughter. The pregnant bitch finally got what she paid for.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I had some bitchy, snarky things to say, some complaints to make which have been welling up inside of me. I have been pretty irritable and it doesn't take much to set me off these days. But while I was sitting on the couch, watching tv, Steve came and sat down, holding the free American Baby magazine that came in the mail today.

He ripped out an ad for a Boppy and passed it to me, exclaiming how cool this thing looked. I told him I knew what a Boppy was and of course we would get one. Then he passed me an article about the seven types of annoying people to pregnant women, all seven of which I am very aware of and encounter every day. He told me I could subscribe to weekly emails which explained how the baby was developing inside of me. I told him I am already subscribed, but he should download the free app on his iTouch.

It made me smile to see him so interested in the next phase, trying to prepare. I am always unprepared (but I prefer the word "spontaneous"): I give speeches at work without index cards. I throw a few shirts in the suitcase twenty minutes before we leave for a trip. I moved halfway across the country without having a job or an apartment lined up. Steve is my opposite. He remembers to bring the cell phone charger on trips and worries about circumstances that may never happen and reads reviews before buying any product.

We balance each other out. So while I don't know if either of us will be good at this whole parenting thing individually, as a team, I think we will manage. He will cram for parenting over the next six months, and I'll hope I learn it as it happens. And one way or another, we will.

Monday, October 3, 2011

bully disease

It's only October 3rd and I'm ready to declare, "I'm aware of breast cancer." I'm aware of it without needing to see pink ribbons everywhere and pink cleats on NFL players and yogurt tops and "race for the cure" and "Susan B. Komen foundation" on T-shirts and signs and buses. I'm aware of breast cancer without all this marketing the same way most Americans are aware of it: we know someone who has it or had it.

In fact, breast cancer is the way I plan to die. So until then, can I please live through Octobers and every other month without being inundated with breast cancer paraphernalia? I'm not against finding a cure - by all means, find it! Preferably in the next twenty years before I'm diagnosed with it. But while finding a cure, let's stop acting like breast cancer is the only cure we're in need of finding.

How about a cure for AIDS? Heart disease? Skin cancer? I don't even know what colors those ribbons are because those diseases aren't parading around like they're the King of Diseases and the only cure in need of finding. I know I still have four more weeks in October and the rest of my life to continue seeing and hearing "breast cancer" like it's the source of the Apocalypse. But damn it if I'm not going to voice my hatred for pink ribbons in the midst of it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Drink/personality chart

I want a margarita. An icy cold, blended, flavored margarita. I only drink socially, never alone, so imagine my sudden longing for booze when I was invited to happy hour despite my condition. I'm still going. I will go and eat cheese balls because I enjoy the conversation, even without the booze that makes it so much more interesting. I wonder what drinks they will choose. I always have an expectation of what kind of drink someone will order because of what person I think they are. Here is my interpretation of a person based on the drink they order:

1. Domestic beer: low maintenance; run-of-the-mill; somewhat dull
2. Specialty beer: unique personality; knows what they want; has a few vices
3. White wine: somewhat snobby
4. Red wine: full-out snobby
5. Rum and coke: new to drinking cocktails and didn't know what else to order or first ordered a rum and coke and never switched to anything else when the rest of us did
6. Whiskey: future alcoholic
7. Gin: full-out crazy
8. Michelob Ultra: weight issues - might be extreme dieting, extreme exercising, anorexic or bullemic. Doesn't drink much and leaves the party earlier than most.
9. Vodka tonic: same as #8, but this one wants to get drunk
10. Margarita: no longer a young drinker but still knows how to have a good time
11. Shots: desperate to get laid tonight
12. Jägerbombs: wants to get laid or have fun, and can't do either without this drink

There are hundreds of other drinks, but these are the main ones I see people order, so these ones I have the most opinions about. Don't comment to me on how you love red wine but you're not snobby or anything like that. Keep in mind, I have drank all and still drink many of these beverages. So whatever terrible thing you think I'm saying about you is what I am saying about myself. What did I miss?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Feeling super pregnant today: bought maternity clothes off the internet then got emotional watching The X Factor while eating cookies. OK, so other than the word "maternity" that sentence could refer to any other Wednesday night of mine. But now I have an excuse.

I've always gotten hot easily with my hyperhidrosis, but now I'm even hotter more often. Can scalps sweat? Because mine seems to think so. I constantly check our thermomstat to see if it really is hot or if it's just me. The sad thing is, I look at the temperature, and don't even know if 76 degrees is hot for a house or not.

I've been watching a lot of the Rachel Zoe Project - this season in which she is pregnant. She is always wearing skinny pants with tall stilettos and a leather jacket - making pregnancy look so fashionable and nearly glamorous which all of us non-millionaires know not to be the case.

But maybe I could clean myself up a little more this time than I did last time. Last time I was a slob. So it doesn't take much to be a step up. I factored that into my maternity clothes purchases tonight, not being so sloppy. I even bought one shirt with buttons on it.

When my little brother was younger, he hated buttons. He refused to wear shirts with buttons. Once mom forced him into one for church and he bit the buttons off in the car. It was a real struggle to find anything acceptable for him to wear to church. I remember he had a striped polo with a zipper. He wore that pretty frequently. Even now, he doesn't love buttons. He's a t-shirt kind of guy.

I wonder if our child will have some weird idiosyncrasy like that. I'm sure he/she will. I don't know anyone without something. I don't know anyone who is 100% normal. How boring we would be if we were.

What I love about normal is that there is no such thing. It's like a holy grail for the oddballs: what other people tell them to be but they probably aren't that interested in becoming. We all have our thing. I cry while sweating with a cookie in my hand, watching reality tv. My brother bites buttons off his shirt. My husband wears soccer socks in his team's colors on game days.

I could out a hundred different people here with the oddities I love about them, but what would the point be? Because the point is to find some odd person and love them how they are. Sweaty, buttonless, crying and all. If you're constantly trying to change people, you're never actually loving them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

expecting the unknown

Parents, close friends, and boss have all been notified. I think that means it's OK to post it on the internet: Steve and I are expecting our first child. And by expecting I only mean waiting for it to come, because we certainly don't know what to expect. Sometimes I ask him, "do you think I'll be a good mom?" because I honestly don't know. I'm impatient and moody and undomesticated and a whole slew of other things a mom isn't supposed to be.

I have always wanted a family, but never felt prepared for one. Six years ago, I had just graduated college and had no idea what my life would bring, but certainly wasn't ready for it to bring a baby. I'm wondering if things have really changed that much over the last six years. On paper, I'm ready: I've been married for five years, I have a house with empty rooms. But in my head, it's a whole different story.

People say your natural maternal instincts kick in once your child is born and I'm really banking on that. I have great plans of family traditions and picnics and back-to-school shopping, but I don't know about the bulk of parenting: the everyday. As much as I hate being pregnant, I guess it's a good thing that it takes 9 months for that baby to emerge. It will take me 9 months of telling myself over and over that we're really having a child before I finally believe it. That is my mental preparation: acceptance.

So until the first week of April, you can expect a few blogs from me bitching about pregnancy. My chin looks like the Appalachian Mountains right about now. I have exactly two pairs of work pants and two pairs of jeans that fit and my shirt selection is getting slimmer by the day (I, of course, have the opposite problem). I pant walking up the stairs. I feel out of shape, exhausted, and just plain fat. But it's all for the greater good.

I will still plan to write about life outside of pregnancy. I hope to keep my individuality and not morph into one of those women who is only defined by the title of "mom." I plan to continue having hobbies and aspirations and friends without kids. I hope to be able to hold conversations that don't start with, "my son/daughter said/did the funniest thing yesterday..." I hope to maintain myself, while receiving my new title. But like I said, I don't know what to expect except a baby out of all of this.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Nobody thinks about it if they don't have it. But I have it. So I can do nothing but think about it. My wardrobe, my mannerisms, my activities are restricted by it. What bothers me is my hyperhidrosis. Because you don't have it, I'll explain what it is. OK, Wikipedia will: Hyperhidrosis is the condition characterized by abnormally increased perspiration, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature.

It only afflicts nearly 3% of the population, so it's rare to find someone else with it. But I have seen the signs. I have a radar for excessive sweating. I notice people who only wear black shirts or shoes that allow them to wear socks. I notice people with an aversion to shaking hands or giving high fives. As twisted as it sounds, it gives me a tiny bit of happy camaraderie, knowing I'm not alone.

I went to high school at a private K-12 school. As soon as the lunch bell rang, I would walk to the junior high bathroom, because the junior highers were still in class and that was the only bathroom with a hand dryer. I would aim the nozzle up at the pit stains on my shirt and stand there until the stains dried, or until someone walked in - whichever came first. It is humiliating - sweating for no particular reason except for that it's what your body does.

Over a decade has passed since then and I still find my daily activities restricted by it. I might as well have a uniform with how often I wear gray pants and a black shirt to work. Black is the only color that the pit stains aren't evident on. I don't wear shoes that I can't wear socks with. I wear boots with slacks or tennis shoes with shorts. I would love to wear this adorable pair of gladiator sandals I found, but my feet would slip right out of them.

I had to wear a dress twice in the last month. I like dresses and skirts, but I can't wear them because they both go with sandals. I was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding and she wanted to get pictures of us bridesmaids on the beach. The sand stuck to my sweaty feet and turned them a gritty gray. Five minutes before the ceremony, I was scrubbing my feet in a public bathroom. I teetered down the aisle, not only because my heels were high, but because I was afraid my sweat was going to slide me right out of my shoes and onto my face.

My hands also sweat. I used to do counted cross stitch (you know how much I enjoy old lady hobbies), but the canvas would turn brown as I neared the end. During piano lessons, I would wipe the puddled keys with the back of my hand, as if my piano teacher couldn't tell what I had done to her precious ivory. I cringe looking at or thinking about carpet while my hands are sweating. If I ever go crazy, I will be in a padded room in a straight jacket muttering "fucking carpet" for my eternity.

After shaking hands before an interview, the interviewer excuses herself to wash her hands, then returns. I don't dance at weddings because I'm uncomfortable without socks. I don't wear vibrant colors because they would showcase my armpit stains. I hate being in houses where I have to take my shoes off. I wear sweaters when I'm not hot to cover up the stained shirt underneath it. I feel like I am living a slighter version of life: the self-conscious, uncomfortable, crossed arms version.

Even though it's out of my control, it's embarrassing to be writing this on my blog, where anyone can read it. Sweating disgusts people. I am a modern day leper, but not contagious. But writing it out here makes me feel a little better. In high school, there was a girl two grades above me who co-wrote the comic strip for our newspaper. She was named "clammy hands" in the comic, and I admired her for being honest about it, despite how embarrassing it was. There is something admirable about owning your faults, rather than hiding behind them. There is a way to live this life without it being a slighter version, I just have to let go of this dream of a stupid pair of sandals.

the help

I'm reading The Help (if you haven't read it yet, you need to pick up a copy immediately). In it is a woman right out of college who wants to be a writer. She applies to Harper and Row Publishers and receives the following response:

Dear Miss Phelan,
I am responding personally to your résumé because I found it admirable that a young lady with absolutely no work experience would apply for an editing job at a publisher as prestigious as ours. A minimum of five years in the business is mandatory for such a job. You'd know this if you'd done any amount of research on the business.

Having once been an ambitious young lady myself, however, I've decided to offer you some advice: go to your local newspaper and get an entry-level job. You included in your letter that you "immensely enjoy writing." When you're not making mimeographs or fixing your boss's coffee, look around, investigate, and write. Don't waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else.

Yours sincerely,
Elaine Stein, Senior Editor, Adult Book Division

I love writing about what disturbs me. So the next few posts will be dedicated to just that. Maybe more than a few. A lot of things upset or disgust or disturb me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

warm nights

I give Omaha a lot of shit, because for three months every year I drive on snow-covered streets in white-knuckle terror. Then in the summer, I dread going outside for fear I will faint from heat stroke, or else just sweat so bad I leave a trail of sweat droplets behind me.

But for as much as I hate winter and summer here, I love fall and spring. Sure, these are the two most overlooked seasons here, as they tend to be week-long segues from extreme heat to extreme cold, but I love those very short seasons nonetheless.

Tonight I stood outside in the warm early fall air, closed my eyes. It felt like fall ten years ago. Ten falls ago I moved to Omaha to begin college. I was young and innocent and excited for whatever the world was about to bring me. I thought I was on my own, even though my mom and dad paid for my dorm room. But in a way, I was. I could be myself completely, without my family interrupting.

In college, we would stay out in the warm nights, at a park or just go for a walk with the sounds and smells of Omaha swirling around us. Those nights are when Omaha became my city. And as each summer turned into another fall, there became more and more reasons to love it.

Tonight Steve is out watching football somewhere while I have some alone time. Steve and I married each other without any intentions of changing the other. We liked each other for who we already were. So when he is not around, I am not moping around (unless I've watched too many Criminal Minds and scared myself shitless). Without him, I am me. With him, I am me. I believe every couple should be individuals.

So in the fall, he watches football on Saturdays and Sundays while I go for long walks or watch tv marathons or put together jigsaw puzzles or read a book without getting up for hours. And sometimes, I just stand outside in the warm Omaha air, and marvel at the falls that have been and the falls that will be.

Monday, August 29, 2011

dream in my pocket

A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me this. She knows that I have always dreamed of being a writer. And she knows that like most dreams, it gets shoved behind daily tasks and my job and my relationships. It ends up dead last in my priorities, even though at one point in my life it was first.

You have a dream in your back pocket, don’t you? Over the years, that dream has taken on many different names in your mind: Silly. Ridiculous. Hobby. Foolish. Impossible. Waste of time. You have called it that for so long, that you have never actually taken the time to consider how it got there in your pocket in the first place.

We throw trash away; we don’t put trash in our pockets. That dream is there because at one time, you saw that it had value. And so you tucked it away for safe-keeping. But doubt and fear have convinced you to keep it hidden, convinced you to rename that dream Wrong. What would it take for you to pull that dream out again, to stop taunting it with cruel names and to simply listen to what it has to say? No filters. No back talk. No eye rolls.

Dare to handle it, to hold it in your hands and consider it with kindness, with compassion, with (dare I say it?) goals. Are there tiny, itty-bitty baby steps you can take toward pursuing it? Can you at least pull it out of your pocket and hold it in your hand? Place it on the desk, maybe?
(read the rest here)

Sometime in the last few months, I quit writing. I was so overwhelmed with life and work and daily stresses that for some reason I didn't do the one thing that destresses me and makes sense of my emotions. I missed it. I suffered without it. Those months felt worthless. I felt worthless.

Then, about a month ago, I started writing again. Nothing fancy, nothing noteworthy, just writing in general. I'm writing about my childhood and a poem here and there and maybe a couple pages of fiction. Nothing noteworthy, but the dream is out of the pocket and onto the desk. No longer forgotten. My first tiny, itty-bitty baby step toward pursuing it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I am like this album cover.

My hobby is that of a 75-year old crotchety woman. It's jigsaw puzzles. Sometimes, I get the urge to do a puzzle the way a heroin addict probably gets the itch for a fix. I have 500 hundred piece puzzles and 1,000 piece puzzles, but it's the 1,000 piece puzzles that I really like. 500 is too short (takes me 45 minutes), but 1,000 is just right. On a Friday night, I want nothing more than to turn my iPod on full blast and sing along with my favorite songs while racing the clock, frantically making piles and putting together pieces.

Sometimes I can hear Steve laughing at me from the other room, but it doesn't bother me. I know how I must look (and sound). I have narrowed down my puzzle selection to a few favorites that I do over and over again. I've become pretty quick, but still haven't met my goal. My goal is to put together 1,000 pieces in two hours. That might sound like a lot of time, considering I can do 500 pieces in 45 minutes, but with double the pieces to sift through, it takes more than twice as long. Yesterday I almost made it. Two hours, four minutes.

People that know the bitchy and outgoing side of me - the girl who drinks two or three bottles of wine at parties and talks trash - those people probably wouldn't believe this puzzle maniac is me. The people who know the pensive side of me - the reader and writer - might believe it. The people I work with, who see me in work mode - busy, frantic, perfectionist - would think it was a bit far-fetched. I am all these things at once, yet at different times. I'm not defined by one word or mood.

That is why my blog entries are all over the map. I admire people who can write in the same voice that appeals to the same readers. But I can't do it. What I write is dictated by how I feel at the time. And it's not always bitchy, it's not always pensive, it's not always angry or happy or sad. It's not always anything. It's always something. I don't have thousands or hundreds of followers. I have a handful of people like me who are different at different times, and maybe aren't always "on" or can't always turn it off. I wish I had more control over myself, but I don't.

I am a puzzle, made up of all these different pieces - all these different moods and hobbies and personas in the album cover - and I'm not complete if even one piece is missing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hoes in different area codes

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

~Miranda Lambert

Personally, I'm much more of a Miranda Lambert than a Carrie Underwood.

I went home three weeks ago, and every time I do, I feel like I'm reclaiming a little piece of myself that I had left there. I don't make it home as often as I'd like to, but every time I do, I feel myself, in a different way. The me that lives in Nebraska is responsible with a stable job who drives an air conditioned car and lives within a budget.

But the me in Washington is on vacation. I have no dog, no job, no car, no cable for those few days. I can just chum around with my brothers and chat with my mom and forget about the budget and eat out and don't exercise. The entirety of my life being responsible has been spent here, but Washington holds my childhood, my adolescence, my college party years. It holds my brothers and my parents, my niece and my sister-in-law. It reminds me of who I was.

Sometimes I think I want to move back there. I miss the mountain and the cool breeze and the seafood and the places to shop and my family. Mostly my family. But if I lived there, I couldn't be irresponsible Holly. It's kind of nice, having two of me - one for there, one for here. One who lives within her means, and one who does whatever she wants. Those two can't collide - they're best left in their own zip codes. This way, they can both exist.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bitchy bakery girl

Yesterday, I was at Olive Garden picking up my to go order, since even at 4:30pm on a Tuesday night, that place is sure to have a one hour wait. In front of me in line at the to go counter was a woman with a fat ass ordering. I was already in a pissy mood, because who the fuck orders to go food from a sit down restaurant at the restaurant? Hasn't she heard of a god damn phone? So she is going to order the food and wait twenty minutes while glaring at the to go lady impatiently. Brilliant.

So the fact that she was a bitch just made me more pissy. I already figured she was based on the way she was standing, hogging the whole aisle rather than standing near the person she was behind in line, but I'm trying to be a gentler person a give people a chance. This woman orders, and says, "and I want a lot of breadsticks," as if she is planning to shove breadsticks in her mouth the way the Guiness record holder did with cigarrettes.

"I can only give you two for free," the to go lady replied tartly. Fat Ass rolled her eyes and shook her head and said, "well I'm not paying for them, so I guess I'll take the two." Then as soon as she said it, she added, "but I know that's bullshit because I work at a bakery." Apparently she thinks working at a bakery makes her an expert at Darden Restaurants policies. Or maybe she was trying to say she knows the value of bread, because she's in the bread industry. Either way, she just sounded like a real idiot and I coughed to cover up my chuckle.

"How long has this policy been in affect?" she asked the to go lady while signing her receipt - she just couldn't let the breadsticks thing go. "Since as long as I've worked here, and I've been here four years," the employee responded. "Well that can't be true," she retorted, "I got more than two breadsticks when I came here in...2008." She was racking her brain in the diary section, trying to see when she last wrote an entry about snorting a six foot line of breadsticks. The to go lady looked at Fat Ass, then looked at me, then snapped, "well, that's the policy."

Finally, Fat Ass stepped aside enough for me to pick up my order which was sitting there getting cold the entire time she was arguing about breadsticks. We all know that there are hundreds of breadsticks behind that door and that thousands of them get thrown away each day, but the point the to go lady was trying to make was that you get back what you put out, as J. Lo would say. If you have a breadstick instead of a small intestine, a bear claw instead of a heart, and angel food cake instead of a brain, maybe you're spending too much time in the bakery and need to start working on your social skills.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

perky tits won't stand up straight

Googled phrases that landed people here:

1. Why are people bitchin about the rain...its 1opm on a wed
Yeah peeps, don't bitch about rain after the sun has gone down on a weeknight.
2. Old people play with poop
I thought it was babies. But infants and the elderly do have a lot in common
3. My tall cactus won't stand up straight
Is this really about a cactus?
4. How do you outsmart a carnie
If you have to ask, you're not up for the challenge.
5. "teenage booty"
Get off my site, perv. Wrong place.
6. Holly Pelesky fucks
This one really bothers me. I mean, really, what are we expecting to find by googling this? A list? Google images? I might have a blog, but there still are some things I don't post on the internet.
7. Aziz Ansari google himself
Him and everyone else. I wonder if he puts "fucks" at the end.
8. Chipotle 401k
Unless aluminum foil counts as currency, I don't think anyone is retiring early on this.
9. Bell Jar tattoo
I just got a great idea for my first tattoo.
10. Perky tits
Wrong place again, perv. My tits haven't been perky since 2004.

Monday, August 8, 2011

the next level

This is where I was this weekend.

My sister has put the last year of her life into planning her wedding. And I must say, it showed. It was beautiful and frantic and emotional and fun, all wrapped into one.

It was supposed to be a dry (no booze, but tears are allowed, if not encouraged) wedding, but my brother and I changed that. I said it was "fun," didn't I? Nothing is fun about dry. Nothing. If you're thinking of something to refute that, you're not thinking of anything dirty.

Speaking of dirty, at breakfast my aunt was talking about some Christian romance author that lives near her and we both agreed that Christian romance sounds like a real drag. "I want to read a book about the Christian girl with the messy hair," she said.

I could write that. That shit is real. No matter how beautiful something looks, is there really such a thing as a fairy tale romance? I don't think so. Relationships take work and compromise and tears and arguments. Anything less than that belongs in the fiction section.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Six years ago today was also a Saturday. I remember it very vividly. I remember what it felt like to give birth to another human being. I remember what it felt like to hold her and smile at her tiny fingers and toes. I remember the lump in my throat, but maybe that's because it never left.

Even though I love words and try my best to put my feelings into them, I can not do it with Gracie.

Words are a one-size-fits all costume, not fitted clothing.

"Love" is too general to describe what it feels like to make and give birth to a miniature you. It's too general of a word to express to her what she means to me. Perhaps I'll never to be able to explain how it feels to love a daughter who is both your own and someone else's. Or perhaps I could, if I created my own word, from my favorite letters, one that hasn't been overused and misused yet.

So Gracie, I mylsch you. It means that there is no circumstance that could make me stop caring this much about you. It doesn't have strings attached - no matter what you feel for me, it won't change how I feel for you. It is an overwhelming emotion - in my subconscious, you are always there, sitting in a quaint little chair, occupying my thoughts. There is no past-tense for this word - the feeling is eternal.

I hope she feels it too, from all of her parents. She is one very special girl - to a lot of people. There is a lot of love for her, and a whole lot of mylsch, too.

Monday, July 25, 2011

no good very bad morning

I don't handle mornings gracefully without a giant sea of specialty coffee in my stomach. Even then, your odds of me being in a civil mood are slim. It is my personal belief that "morning people" are people who have never had a hangover. They are those same people who believe a good run can cure anything and never look to self-medicate with a drug of choice. They are those people who make their own home decorations and grow their own herbs and have a natural childbirth. Those people and I have nothing in common.

Today is my second morning waking up before 6:30. It wasn't good. I slumpwalked downstairs for breakfast. Steve poured me coffee into my favorite mug - a black and white monogrammed one my sister got me. Awhile ago, the handle broke off, but Steve superglued it back on for me. Apparently superglue is not eternal. As I held the mug up to my lips by the handle, the cup part dropped, splattering warm coffee all over my body on the way down to my freshly mopped kitchen floor.

I had to take a second shower (to my three male readers: all though this is an insignificant and quick task for you, for a woman with hair, it is a giant pain in the ass). I still had some extra time, so I popped in my yoga DVD. While I was standing erect with my palms pressed together above my head (the only yoga pose I know), the spinning ceiling fan knocked my phalanges together as I yelped in pain.

Finally, I make it to work, cursing the morning and my shitty home brewed coffee I never got to drink. As soon as I walk into my office, I see a ceiling tile in pieces on the floor and water stains on the carpet all around it. The ceiling is dripping. Someone surmises the problem to be the air conditioner, and a service is called. "Please don't shut off the air," I whine like the overheated hyperhidrosis victim I am. No one gives a shit what I have to say about my clammy hands - the air is turned off. The temperature climbs and climbs until I can't take it any longer - I leave to get a cold specialty coffee, and consider not returning at all.

But I do return. Because I'm a responsible adult who needs a paycheck. And because I know in the grand scheme of life, these problems aren't really problems. There are people with a much shittier time of life than mine. But I'm so busy being a self-involved whiner I don't even notice it. Tomorrow the alarm will sound bright and early again. And maybe tomorrow I won't violently suffocate it with my pillow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

egg me

Every morning, Steve and I eat breakfast together: we each have one egg over easy, and a mug of coffee. On the weekends, we make a big breakfast: our favorite is breakfast burritos. Breakfast burritos involve eggs, sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese, tater tots, and tortillas. We fucking love eggs. We eat as many eggs as Gaston.

Since my last check-up was five years ago (well, really since I needed something prescribed to me for my hyperhidrosis), I visited a doctor. All I was interested in was getting that signed paper from him, but he made me get needle-poked (I added "needle" so it didn't sound so dirty, but now it sounds worse) and give urine and all sorts of other intrusive tasks I wasn't in the mood for. All that to tell me I am healthy. But my cholesterol is a bit high.

Guess what has 65% of your daily cholesterol? One measly egg yolk. What the fuck am I supposed to eat now? And don't tell me oatmeal - that mushy shit looks like what they put in pig troughs. Don't tell me grape nuts, either: I'm not 85. No, I would never spend the two hours it requires to peel an orange. In fact, don't tell me to eat any breakfast food that isn't eggs, because it's only eggs I'm interested in. If only Gaston weren't a cartoon - I'm sure he'd know what to do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

the blogger is out: to return in september

Forgive me for my absence.

Big Brother has begun.

If it weren't for that show, there would be absolutely nothing I liked about summer. I hate mosquitoes and unbearable heat and that stuff between your window panes. I hate the sound of flip flops, I hate those teeny bikinis that I can't wear ever since the stretch marks. I've even become indifferent about ice cream, which was at one time a great joy of my life.

But Big Brother saves me from my misery, even if only for three hours a week. Who am I kidding? Three hours? That's just watching the network show. Then there's twitter feeds and jokers updates and message boards and Big Brother After Dark on Showtime.

Steve says it's my religion, then laughs, as if it's a joke.

No one should joke about people's beliefs. It's disrespectful.

I will lurking around the internet, checking out Big Brother gossip. And every now and again, I'll pop in here, too - to remind myself of my own reality outside of reality tv.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

help wanted

I have such an inflated sense of my work ethic that every time I see a Help Wanted sign, I think the establishment wants me. They don't want help, they want Holly. The sign makes me consider quitting my job so I can go work at Runza/Scooters/Bag N Save and revolutionize their company. With me as their employee, they will become a Fortune 500 company virtually overnight.

Drive-thru? I could kill it on the headset. I could get serving times down to 12 seconds, as long as the customers have their hands out the car window with their credit cards ready.

Coffee shop? I will create six new drinks which will get everyone to come from Starbucks over to our place. And only our alcoholic customers will recognize the secret ingredient in my drinks is Kahlua.

Grocery store? I'll sell alcohol without carding anyone.

Everytime I see one of those yellow signs, I want to grab it, slap it onto the counter and say, "I hear you loud and clear. Where's my apron?" For some reason, this feeling only strikes me with the signs. Newspaper ads, online job postings, they do nothing for me. Something about the desperation of the sign lures me.

Or maybe it's because receptionist and data entry jobs never have signs. I don't want to be anyone's bitch, I want to run the show. I want to show everyone what they're missing. I quickly tire of not being recognized.

While putting up the Help Wanted sign, I can imagine the owner dreaming of an employee like me to come in with a perfectly spelled résumé. No business owner dreams of a person in dirty jeans coming in and asking for an application and a pen while stealing a pack of gum. But until I can be cloned, they will have to do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

same postal code

Tonight, I was asked if I am happy.

"For the most part," I answered.

"That means 'no'," he replied,
"Life is black or white."

"No," I argued,
"Life is shades of gray."

But even as I said it,
I thought, what if he is right?
What if everything can be reduced
down to a "yes" or "no" answer
and all of this reasoning
in the grays
is simply a waste of time?

If that's the case,
I guess he's right:
I'm not happy.

So I hold onto my belief
of gray areas -
I want to believe I am happy
or at least
that I'm in the vicinity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

splitting assets

I need encouragement. I'm taking a stab at writing a book, after talking about it for years and years. Read a page and give me some feedback. Any feedback. I have to start somewhere.

I lifted my downcast eyes and snuck a look at my husband, soon to be ex-husband. He was watching our two lawyers discuss splitting assets with interest. He was dressed in a gray blazer, he sat erect; his eyes danced with amusement.

He looked more alive and vibrant. I wondered if he had a new girl; if this new energy was the result of a new fling. Or, was it that at last being himself, rather than my husband and all that entailed, was responsible for this change in him? Perhaps being through with my endless requests for more affection had freed him.

I tried to imagine his day-to-day, but could picture nothing past his commute. I knew nothing of him anymore. He hadn't stooped to my level of having juicy date gossip filter through our mutual friends, hoping it would end up in a conversation he was included in.

All of a sudden, I felt as if I was the one being divorced, rather than the initiator. To realize he didn't need me after all those "I can't live without you"s caught in my throat and I instinctively reached for the pitcher of water. The clinking of the glass caught Aaron's attention and he looked at me.

I held his gaze, and he smiled at me. Not a smirk or a sympathy smile, but that grin that would erase everyone else in a room full of people. I gulped down my loneliness, reminding myself to contemplate it later.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

old songs and poems

Once upon a time, I lived alone; I lived in a one bedroom apartment by myself. My friend and I went shopping at Furniture Row where I opened up a credit card and bought dark wood furniture for all three of my rooms. It took six weeks for the furniture to come in, so until then, I slept on the floor. All I had brought with me from Washington to Nebraska was what would fit in my Saturn: books and clothes and a box of memories.

I had a tv, but no cable or bunny ears. I spent my time at work, and then came home, read my books, listened to music, and wrote. I cleaned the place frequently. It was small, and soon full of furniture, but it was my cozy little nook. The fridge was full of Mug root beer, bagels, and smoked turkey; the cupboards of pasta and Swiss cake rolls. It was meager living, but I was myself.

And now, I am still me, but I don't always feel myself. I have a job that stresses me out, at times so much that I forget who I am. I am too conscientious now of money and how much things cost and that I'm not making enough or saving enough. At home, I work out, as to not gain as much weight as I'm consuming. Then I watch tv because it's there and so am I and I don't want to put the effort it takes into doing anything else.

There are things to do: cleaning is now a daylong project, not a fifteen minute chore. There are events I feel guilted into attending, even though I don't want to. Even those things that are supposed to be fun, like a happy hour with the girls from work, sometimes feels exhausting because I just want to be at home by myself, with my iPod and a puzzle. I want to feel myself again.

Sometimes I feel completely myself for a moment, when I'm reading a book of poetry or listening to an older country song, but it's the exception now. I feel like I'm constantly being poked and proded into a responsible adult. That's not who I am. I am that person who doesn't consider money and overdrafts her account. I'm that person that will spend three hours on a walk because I have no agenda. I was that person who drove an old beater car because it meant something to her.

I am losing myself in an endless cycle of alarm clocks, DVR recordings, and monthly budgets. I have become the responsible adult. But I long to feel myself - the girl who did what she wanted when she wanted and always felt at peace. Sure, it isn't responsible or respectable at my age, but it was familiar territory.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

carnie guesses

There are things I can turn down: saunas, gym memberships, mani/pedis and chocolate chip bacon cookies are in this category.

Then there are things that I can't turn down: a trip to the bookstore, a nap, reality tv, and premium coffee are in this category. Premium coffee is a real vice of mine. In my personal expense column of our budget, nearly every line reads, "Starbucks" or "Scooters."

So when driving back from a seminar, my co-worker suggested we stop at Starbucks, I swerved my car across three lanes of traffic and into a parking space so fast it compelled her to ask, "does Steve usually drive?"

Inside, the lonely barista was so excited to see some young women, he made up some carnie schtick, claiming he could guess our drink of choice by looking at us. He completely butchered my co-worker's, but she ordered it anyway, probably to boost his self-esteem. He was, after all, a carnie in his past life, and she still has compassion for much of mankind.

When it came my turn, I let him get a good look at me to size me up. "Look me in the eyes," he said, "it's all in the eyes." How many seconds until a gaze becomes an eyeful? Because wherever that line is, he came dangerously close to it. Of course, he butchered my drink of choice as well, although I am hard to guess because my drink is no longer listed on the menu (I'm mysterious and elusive like that).

We left with our drinks in hand, and with the disturbing sense that a lonely barista just made up a hell of a line to ogle us. "Turn around, I need to see your ass to decide whether or not you want whip cream," I joked. But was it a joke? Or did a carnie just outsmart two businesswomen from a seminar? God damn it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I've come to hate small talk.

It means two people have nothing to talk about. But to mask that, they have pointless chatter, most commonly about the weather, but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes it's other observations. I hate small observation talk. Most commonly, it's something like, "you got a haircut." What are you supposed to say to that? "Why yes, I did. Thanks for noticing"?

For me, it's sunburns. People are always commenting to me how I got a little sun over the weekend. I never know what they expect me to say in return. "Why yes, I have very pale skin. If I get the mail, I have to use aloe vera for a week." Or, "no shit - I went outside."

Or do they want me to comment on some observation I have about them? How about I say, "you look tired - did you have to sleep on the couch again last night?" If I commented on every observation I had, everyone would be offended. But somehow, other people do, and no one gets upset at them.

No one, that is, except me. It's pointless. I hate that which doesn't serve a purpose. Keep your observations to yourself, unless there is some point to verbalize it. Like, "you're on fire," would be helpful, whereas, "your Skittles are all different colors," is not helpful, just infuriating.

Now I'll go rub some aloe vera on my arms - I just got the mail. My celebrity magazine came today, so I'll read that while my skin starts to peel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

my new car smells

It finally happened.

I got a new car.

After seven years of driving a salvaged car without air conditioning, you would think I would be ecstatic the day I traded the bucket of bolts in for a newer model.

But I wasn't.

I cried.

I fucking cried! Full out red eyes, red nose, sniffles.

The salesman came back from negotiating with the broker and saw me crying. He asked what was wrong while I sniffled into a kleenex. Steve said, "she's very attached to her car."

I thought about all the hours I worked and all the money I saved to buy it. I thought about how I've had that car longer than I've been married. That car knew me when I was in college, when I was pregnant, it moved halfway across the country with me. I think it even knew me when I was still a virgin.

I took it to the mechanic and fixed up what I could and it was faithful to me. I always thought I would drive her until she sputtered to a stop for good. But we didn't even make it to the end together. I felt like I was betraying an old friend. No amount of money they offered me for a trade in would accurately portray that car's value.

I told Steve I wanted to not trade it in, but sell it myself so I can meet the new owner. I told him it was as special to me as a pet and I didn't want her sitting in an impersonal lot, getting sunburned and mocked, parked amongst the new models. But after a few more kleenex, I swallowed that lump in my throat and signed the papers.

But the lump resurfaced.

Even now, I feel guilty, having a new car when nothing not everything was wrong with my old one.

People say I deserve a new car. But sometimes you don't deserve what you get.

Sometimes contentment is more valuable than determination.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

tornado survivors

You might have already heard this, but if not, this bike helmet story is pretty amazing:

"As the tornado neared her home in Joplin, Natalie Gonzalez ran to the bathroom and huddled in the tub with her 9-year-old son Augie, her puppy and boyfriend.

"We saw the tornado warning," she told ABC News today. "We heard the sirens. I looked outside and saw the dark cloud. We made the split-second decision to take a blanket, take a pillow. ... I threw these things over my son. "

Gonzalez said that at the last minute, she got her son to put on his bicycle helmet because she'd heard it would protect a child during a hurricane.

"At one point, the toilet flew up out of the ground and hit my son in the head and me in the back and the bicycle helmet saved his life," she said. When it appeared that they were in the eye of the storm, Gonzalez said, the three ran from the bathtub and jumped into a ditch."


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

divide or conquer

Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.
~Eugene Ionesco

I don't talk much about religion or politics. Not on this blog, not in real life. It really is true, that quote. Political and religious differences separate nations, cause wars, and are the reason that a mob was standing on the corner of 144th and Harrison the other day with signs that read, "God hates fags." Some serial killers claim their motives to be religious. Religions shun and shut out. Churches excommunicate. Friendships are lost. Families have feuds.

It all seems silly to me.

"Live and let live," I say. You believe what you believe, I'll believe what I believe.

Neither of us will try to convert the other, or say someone who believes differently than we do is wrong, or their lifestyle is sinful or that they are going to hell. How about people only go to funerals when they're invited, not to tell mourners that the dead deserved it.

And then, we can co-exist.

I think that people often believe what they want to believe. They will mask a prejudice with the words, "the Bible says" so as to not sound prejudiced. Seriously, none of us have the answers. So why do we try to convince each other that we do?

Rather than share my religion, I share my dreams and anguish on this blog. I've already felt division from people I grew up with. That's why I choose the opposite.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

going postal

At work, we have a mailman who was nicknamed "Papa Smurf" for his uncanny resemblance. The beard, the stature...he even wears all blue. I thought Papa Smurf was a harmless lonely old man, so I would chit chat with him each day while signing for our certified mail.

And then, a co-worker moved into my office with me.

That's when the creepiness went from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds.

One day, he pulled out his phone and fiddled around with it for a full minute before holding it out at arms length and saying, "smile."

The next time I saw him, he said, "your co-workers probably all thought I was creepy because of the picture thing - I just wanted you to know, I didn't really take her picture, it was a joke." When I asked what the joke was about, he said, "in case she ever turns up missing, I can submit it to Robert's Dairy to put on their milk cartons."

Then, on Friday, he brought in roses. One for my co-worker, one for me.

Suddenly, Papa Smurf went from harmless to having a medicine cabinet full of roofies. He was no longer asking us to sign for certified mail, but saying, "it puts the lotion on the skin."

So my boss called the post office. He said under no circumstances is the mailman to talk to the young girls who he brought roses to. He's to go to the accounting manager to have anything signed, then drop off the mail, and go on to his next stop.

I saw the post man after that, said a casual "hello" and he nearly growled at me.

If I stop posting for more than two weeks straight, call Robert's Dairy, see if my picture is there, then plaster it on every milk carton you can find.

Monday, May 16, 2011

second bra, dumpster, not invited

My blog showed up in these Google search results:

1. Second bra
What? People have more than one?
2. Saturn sounds like bucket of bolts rattling in back when driving
OK, good, so it's not just mine.
3. Envision your perfect partner
Done. So where is Mark McGrath? (I've been watching a lot of "Celebrity Apprentice" lately)
4. Is fairview heights il a good place to live
It's decent if you lock your doors and don't buy drugs from the wrong person.
5. Hoarder rent a dumpster
That's what I've been saying for years. If only hoarders were willing to throw things away.
6. Bitch didn't invite me
You're right. She sounds like a real bitch.
7. t shirt with scientific equation and then there was life
Let me guess: you're single?
8. Maybe I'm not a beauty queen but am
But am what? Ugly?
9. face book next time you think i give a bitch, remember the 3 b's
Whoa, this sounds violent. But at least not as violent as:
10. stabbed in heart steak knife Puyallup
What kind of freaks are loitering on my blog? I didn't do it, by the way.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I love my little big city.

Yesterday, I drove across the breadth of this town that I love, my window rolled down with the smell of freshly-cut grass in the air. My new used books on the seat next to me, and a smile on my face.

I know the streets: which are one ways, which traffic lights aren't timed with the others, where the potholes and dips are, which neighborhoods have outlets. I have walked through the neighborhoods, ran down the streets, and drove the interstate. I have my favorites, like Farnam and 16th and I will always love the rundown streets of Little Italy.

I have shopped in the stores, ate at the restaurants, drank at the bars.

I interact with the people: I I have honked at those fuckers who cut me off, I have swayed with strangers at concerts, I have made small talk with people in check-out lines. I have even began to consider them all being clothed in red on Husker game days endearing.

A friend told me about a used book store, so I went there for their closing sale. The owner asked me if I was from Omaha, and I said "yes," which is probably what I say if anyone asks and I'm not in Omaha. But then I corrected myself, and said, "no, I'm from the Seattle area." That reminded me:

There was a time in my life when I knew nothing of this place. And I could have never known it. I could have heard it mentioned in a song or seen Eppley Airfield on "Up in the Air," or thought it was the capital of Nebraska. But it could have never been a part of me. I could have never known of the Henry Doorly Zoo or what ConAgra Foods manufactures or who Warren Buffett is.

But I do. Omaha wormed its way into my being and made a nest there. Or I wormed my way into Omaha and made a nest here. Even though it's where I'm from, Omaha has become my home. I moved away from it, and in doing so, longed to move back. It got in my blood: Dodge Street became my main artery. I know this place better than I know the place I grew up. And somehow, the place where I grew into adulthood now means more to me than the place where I grew out of childhood.

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.
~Maya Angelou

Friday, May 13, 2011

success rate

I hear people say the divorce rate is deplorable – can you believe only 50% of people who get married stay married?

I think that’s amazing. It’s pretty great that half of the people who decide they want to be with someone forever really mean it. Forever is a very long time. It’s easy to make a promise, but words are our weakest hold on the world (Alberto Rios). Keeping a promise is where we run into snags.

Humans are fickle creatures. We’re always changing or wanting other people to change. Who someone was when they were 22 isn’t who they are when they’re 55. But some couples stay married through all those changes regardless.

I believe you should stay with someone only because you want to. No other reason.

And if for that reason, you are still with the person you married, you are worth applauding.

Each year of marriage that passes, I feel more and more confident that Steve and I are going to become a part of that statistic. We’ve got a 50/50 shot.

I change, he changes, but I love him for more than who he was when I met him. I love him for who I know he can and will become. I dream with him. I know we won’t always be the same, but I’ve found someone that I want to evolve with.

If I was with anyone else, I’d be a part of the other 50%. But I’ve found the person who loves me as I am and doesn’t mind who I’m becoming. I’ve found the person I need.

Maybe we are the way we are because of the people we’re with. Or maybe we just pick the people we need. ~5/11/11 Modern Family episode

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


So it's happened. I've been invited to my 10-year high school reunion.

When we were about to graduate high school, some of us thought we'd still be friends. We're not.

I have considered going. I live half the country away, but it might be fun to see people from my past again. I considered using a day or two of precious PTO for the occasion. I thought of going back to say hello to the other 48 members of our private school graduating class. The private school that prohibited dancing, so as you can imagine, they also prohibited everything else.

Back then, I didn't mind, because I was still innocent and hadn't even tried out the secular pleasures the world had to offer. But now, I have. I don't know that my old friends would enjoy my tales of debauchery. I don't know if they've changed, or if they expect the rest of us to also have clung to our parents' virtues with fierce resolve.

Because I couldn't decide on my own, I messaged the one person from high school that I know isn't a goody-goody.

Me: so I got an invite to our 10-year high school reunion today. What do you say we buy a couple fifths of vodka and go crash it?
Her: umm fucking yes please! haha! that would be hysterical.

That would be hysterical. To us, any way. Everything's funnier when you loosen up a bit.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I found this over at Rabbit's blog and had to share it.

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most
interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable,
politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

~Mary Schmich
of the Chicago Tribune
June 1, 1997

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

I kind of hate Mother's Day.

Because people don't know how to treat me on it.

People never know what to say or what not to say around me, and I get it, because if I was anyone besides myself, I'm sure I would be confused too.

What people will ask is how often I see her and if I send her cards and if she sends me cards, and I hate those questions because I feel like the asker expects a certain response out of me. If I say I haven't seen her for two years, they will think that isn't often enough, or if I say I only send things on her birthday and Christmas, they'll think I don't care. I feel judged.

A few weeks ago, I went to a baby shower for my college roommate. I hadn't seen her in quite some time and she was one of the few people who didn't make the situation awkward; she asked me how I felt. It was the first time I said the words out loud, because it was the first time anyone had honestly asked; I said, "each year it hurts a little less." And once I said it, I knew that's how I had been feeling.

A few days after, Gracie sent me a card that said, "I probably loved being in your belly."

That was all the Mother's Day I needed.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Ever wonder what it would be like to be yourself all of the time?

I have a theory: that there are two of all of us - one which acts on impulses, speaks her mind, laughs and cries when the feelings strike, ignores people who annoy her, doesn't go to events she's not interested in, wears pants with drawstrings, is able to honestly express her political and religious beliefs, texts her husband when she's afraid of the car idling outside their house. That is yourself.

Then there is the you people expect you to be. The one who works at a job she doesn't like just for the paycheck because she needs to be responsible. The one who wears clothes that don't look good on her because they are trends so she fits in, rather than stands out. The one who agrees with people but doesn't really agree. The one who doesn't text her husband that she's scared lest his friends think she's psychotic. That is the alternate you: the one you feel you have to be outside of your own home - outside of your comfort zone. The person people have pushed you to become.

I see myself slipping further and further into myself with each passing year. I am realizing who I am and who I am not. I do not define myself by what people tell me anymore: I'm learning who I am for myself. I don't believe in a religion because I went to that type of church during childhood. I'll figure that out on my own. You also won't find me reading Twilight or wearing a Livestrong bracelet. I already know those aren't for me.

I have a long way to go - but I'm getting there, little by little. When asked, I will tell people my plans for Friday night are to put together a puzzle and watch "Shark Tank" and I'm not ashamed of it. I don't feel the need to have grandiose weekend plans just because I'm under the age of 30 and older people expect me to still party. I am learning to be myself, regardless of what that makes people think of me.

Maybe I just stopped caring. Maybe I'm giving up on outward appearances. Call me lazy and preach to me about social norms all you want, but you'll find I'm not listening. It's taken 28 years so far, and I'm sure a few more to go, but it feels good to finally become me. Being anyone else is just exhausting.