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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I am an expert flirt; it is a basic instinct of mine. I laugh at jokes that are funny. I pay attention to people when they talk (if I'm interested). Dirty banter beyond "that's what she said," pops out of my mouth unexpectedly. I don't toss my hair, but the more subtle flirting - that's my expertise. So subtle, in fact, that I don't notice it.

But other people notice it; women notice it.

Single men who haven't noticed my ring notice it.

Old men love me for it.

It used to bother Steve, but by this time, we've reached that point. That point where you realize there are parts of someone that aren't going to change, and you best just learn to accept it. I love him for that.

My flirting with other people will never amount to anything because of Steve. That's what this ring he gave me does: it says I belong to someone. So I joke around and talk to men for twenty minutes sometimes. At the end of the day, I belong to the one man I will never tire of flirting with.

And as a bonus, the ring wards off the creeps.
But I did get a rose from a much older man on Friday.
That will be a blog post all it's own.
Let's just say, Steve wasn't surprised.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

rat race

I was reminded of a story I read...It was about a woman in a small town who bought a vacuum cleaner. Her name was Mrs. Jones, and up until then she, like all of her neighbors, had kept her house spotlessly clean by using a broom and a mop. But the vacuum cleaner did it faster and better, and soon Mrs. Jones was the envy of all the other housewives in town - so they bought vacuum cleaners, too.

The vacuum cleaner business was so brisk, in fact, that the company that made them opened a branch factory in town. The factory used a lot of electricity, of course, and so did the women with their vacuum cleaners, so the local electric power company had to put up a big new plant to keep them all running. In its furnaces the power plant burned coal, and out of its chimneys black smoke poured day and night, blanketing the town with soot and making all the floors dirtier than ever. Still, by working twice as hard and twice as long, the women of the town were able to keep their floors almost as clean as they had before Mrs. Jones ever bought a vacuum cleaner in the first place.

~from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
by Robert C. O'Brien

Monday, May 2, 2011


My blog almost died. Almost. But not yet.

Last night, Steve asked me what happened to my blog and reminded me the writing was something I loved. I hadn't forgotten, but I had nearly given up.

I confessed to him my fear of mortality. You see, I don't believe in heaven or hell; I believe when we die, our story ends. Every book has a beginning and an end. And I've been thinking about the end lately. I don't fear death, as I know it is inevitable, but I fear every part of me dying with my body.

I'm afraid of not living on in anyone's minds. I fear my poems staying locked on yellowing, unread pages, never to mean anything to anyone, and then one day to be thrown in Monday's trash without hesitation. Without anyone to read them, they are only thoughts, and it doesn't matter whether or not they were ever written on a page.

To me, failure is being nobody to everyone.

But last night, when I shared my fear with Steve, I realized that very fear should be motivation: to write my memoir, even if I am still young. For me to work harder to get a poem published in an anthology somewhere. For me to spend each day writing something, because maybe someday someone will remember it. But even if not, I won't regret not trying.


Sometimes I think
what I would write
if I didn't plan on
it one day
having an audience.

If one day it was
discovered in a
battered notebook
locked away in a
wooden chest
in my attic.

And I think
I would write
anything at all.

-February 5, 2008