Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 87: Bali, continued.

Note: I went through and did some revision on day 85 ( I was reaaaaaaally tired when I wrote it before.) Today is the next installment.

They walked through the archway of their hotel and decided to try a different hotel for the second night. Packing two small suitcases, they paid their $23.00 bill (rejoicing at each other over the price), and then climbed into a waiting taxi and told him the same thing they'd told the driver the night before: hotel?

This driver pulled up in front of another almost unbelievable beautiful, spacious hotel. It had carved stone dragons spouting fountains into green pools. The floors were cool tile. The price was $22.00 a night. It was official: they had found heaven.

Upon arriving in the most luxurious $22.00 room in the world, they noticed a small sign on the night stand that said "Balinese Massage available, upon request, in your suite. Please call." They had no idea what a Balinese massage was, but it sounded lovely, so they decided to treat themselves. Picking up the phone, and dialing the in-house number, a man picked up saying "Laundry." She replied, "Oh, sorry. I was trying to call the number for the massage." "Oh" he said, "I can give you a massage." Confused she asked, "You do the massages for the hotel?" After a slight pause, "Sure!" She booked for 3:30, hurriedly hung up the phone, looked at Georgia, and made plans to be far away from the hotel at that time.

Back into the streets, wandering around Kuta and feeling miserable at the sight of a completely unexotic and conspicious Kentucky Fried Chicken, they decided to step into a "Nail Parlor and Spa" that advertized Balinese massage for $15.00. Afterwards, she was unable to decide if what she had received was a good representative of "Balinese massage" since it consisted of laying on a rubber mattress while a tiny Balinese woman timidly poked her feet and legs with two fingers. Separated by a drawn sheet, she could hear Georgia receiving her chosen Swedish massage with comments like "Are you sure this is the Swedish massage package? Because it feels different than any Swedish massage I've had before...." Laying on her back, covered by a sheet, the timid masseuse asked her if she wanted the Balinese salt scrub treatment. She thought "When in Rome!" Suddenly, the towel disappeared, and she received a humiliating all over salt pummicing that left her skin burning and her face blushing. So that was Balinese massage.

That afternoon, as they sat on the beach, they decided to head into the interior of the country the next day, and visit a city called Ubud. They wanted to get away from the night clubs and jigolos of Kuta Beach, and see more of what the rest of the country had to offer. Their plan was to take a group taxi the next morning to Ubud, and plan to join a group for an expedition down mild Class 2 rapids on the Ayung River. From there--who knew? They would make up their minds as they went along.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 86: For the Love.

My phrase of choice when frustrated, flabbergasted, or utterly speechless is, generally, "For the love."

I don't know who I have to thank for this phrase, since I can't recall exactly where or when I picked it up, but it is useful in a multitude of situations. For example:

1. 5 two year old boys, for two hours. For the love.
2. Passing up that pot of chocolate fondue, the grilled cheese sandwich, and the pot roast and still gaining weight. For the love.
3. Tripping over the cat in the dark. For the love.
4. Accidentally dropping the pizza facedown on the floor. For the love.
5. Having my two year old pull my skirt off at church in front of all the teenage boys. For the love.

So, does anyone else out there have a "catch all" phrase??? I could use a new one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day 85: Bali, continued.

Yesterday's story, continued...

Because of the time difference, they woke up before dawn. Laying in her bed, she noticed that the sun was coming in the window at a different slant than she'd ever seen before. She realized that, to her, the world felt slightly upside-down. Outside the window, she could hear quiet voices speaking in a language that she didn't even know the name of. It was going to be an incredible day.

She and her friend, Georgia (an old fashioned name for a modern, organized executive), dressed and decided to go for a walk to find the beach. How she and Georgia had come to be on this trip together, at all, was something that still puzzled her. Georgia was ten years her senior, and had a degree from Harvard. She was perfectly comfortable with herself--to the point that she no longer felt the need to travel in girl herds, go to social gatherings out of obligation, or stay up past 9:00 at night. Her native language was Spanish, but her eyes were light green. She was a myriad of puzzles to me. But, she had never traveled outside the United States either, and so we were both savoring in the newness first adventure, together.

Leaving the archway of their hotel, they passed into the quiet, almost deserted roads at dawn. Part of her wondered if this was a good idea. They were quickly attracting a following of stray dogs. Something in her head wondered about wild dogs, and she tried to remember if she was supposed to look them in the eye or not look them in the eye? Or just pick up a big rock and pretend to throw it?

As they walked she noticed something that she had read about in a guidebook; on the doorsteps and curbs of homes, there was a small, green basket woven from palm or banana leaves. Inside the basket were variations of long rice, a pale cookie, some flowers, and a stick of incense. Offerings to the gods. This struck her as beautiful and touching. She wanted to crouch down next to one and hold it in her hand. She felt no urge whatsoever to pull out her camera to take a picture--something that would be as futile as trying to take a picture and capture the feeling of a friendly ghost.

Having meandered down a road of empty market stalls, she and Georgia abandoned their attempt to find the beach so early, and retreated back to their hotel for the free breakfast--wild dogs still in tow. Breakfast was served on a raised white platform, under a red tiled roof. There, on a table, were plates of papayas, mangoes, bananas, and passion fruit. There was a single plate of cold, undercooked scrambled eggs, and several dishes of noodles with various sauces. Her guidebook had said not to eat unwashed fruits, so she got a plate of noodles and poured a soy sauce looking sauce over the top. It had little red chiles floating in it. Having not eaten anything but a lychee flavored candy since the airport in Seoul, she plopped herself down a table with Georgia and a girl from Australia, and plunged her fork into the noodles. With an eager twist of her wrist, she bent to take a bite of her breakfast, inadvertently sending a few small drops of the sauce toward the corner of her eye. Suddenly, her eye felt like it was on fire. She tried to calmly rub it with her hand. She continued to nod at something the Australian was saying about the beach. Then the back of her hand was on fire. Tears started pouring down her cheeks, and soon her whole face was burning. Pushing back her plate, she stood up and stumbled toward her room to find the sink and some water to rinse off her face. She decided, if this was the reaction, she probably didn't want to eat. Who needed food anyway.

After Georgia returned from breakfast, they set off again into the now busy market. The change was astonishing--the streets buzzed with small motorcycles loaded with men, women, children, fruit, and construction materials. They wove fearlessly in and out on the wrong sides of the street among Volkswagen Vanagon taxis. It seemed the whole world had come to life in the hour that they'd been eating breakfast.

Following the directions from the Australian, they made their way toward the beach, where they stood gazing out at the Indian Ocean. They basked in the sun, tried not to gawk at the muscular and tan topless sunbathers (were girls supposed to look like that? Then why didn't they?) After an hour of laying on the sand, napping of some jet lag, they decided to brave some of the nearby market stall selling bright bolts of cloth, carved wooden shoes, and ripoff designer watches.

In the first place they stopped, she saw an emerald green sari skirt with gold and pink woven through it. Running her fingers over the thin cloth, the two shop workers snatched it from her hands and wrapped it around her. They giggled at how tight they had to pull it to get it to fit, explaining that Americans were just much bigger than the Balinese. She asked "How much, in American dollars?" and they said "Fifteen." Pulling out her purse, she counted out the American money, since they had not had time to exchange any money into the local currency. Taking the money, their eyes lit up, and suddenly they were showing her bracelets and necklaces and more skirts. Retreating with just the green skirt, and thanking them profusely, Georgia kept smiling--finally explaining that you were supposed to barter in Bali. Those women had just hit the jackpot of an American girl who just paid what was asked, without driving down the price. They had probably made three times on that skirt than they'd expected.

But at least it really was beautiful. And fifteen dollars didn't seem like much. With her green sari over her arm, they headed back to their hotel to plan.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 84: My Inner Reader

My friend, Lovely, was telling me the other day, via a Facebook instant message conversation that I shouldn't worry about what other people think of my writing. She says that I need to listen to my "inner reader". (She lives in New Zealand. It's late summer in New Zealand. When we were younger, she went to college in Hawaii while I went to college in fun-filled Idaho. But I'm not bitter of her adventurous and tan life.) Anyway, back to my inner reader. I think she got that tidbit from the author, Shannon Hale's, blog. (Is that right, Lovely?) I am supposed to write the kind of stuff that I would want to read.

Ummmm... hmmmm... the kind of stuff I would want to read.

Well, there would be this girl and she would be ordinary. Then she would fall in love with this guy, who would turn out to be a vampire, only a good vampire. And he would sparkle. Oh wait.

Okay. It would be the early 1800s, in England, and there would be this girl and she would be ordinary. Then she would fall in love with this older guy, who we would call by his last name. Maybe it would be "Rochester," only Rochester would have a deep, dark secret. Oh wait.

And that is the thing! Every time I try to really think of a new story, I can only think of the stories I've already read. There are many books that have become so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I don't know how to filter them out in my own writing. I don't think I could ever write a hero to equal Edward Cullen, or a heroine to equal Jane Eyre. Everything in my head just seems so plain in comparison with the incredible people I've met on the page: Anne with an E, Josephine March, John Adams, David Copperfield, and on and on and on. When I sit down to write, my Inner Reader thinks "Hm. You go ahead. I'll be over here with Eclipse."

In an attempt to follow Lovely's advice, though...

She will never forget, sitting on that beach. Looking out over the water and realizing, as she took in the curve of the shore and the palm trees, that she was sitting in a place that could be called exotic and adventurous. She didn't even know how she'd gotten there, really. She had a new, unused passport. There was a cheap flight. Really, she hadn't even thought about it.

The flight had connected to San Francisco, where she met up with a friend, and they proceeded from there to Seoul, Korea. Eight hours watching incoherent Korean television, drinking something from a vending machine called "SWEAT", and shopping duty free stalls in the airport. On another plane to Jakarta, Indonesia. Here, they had been met with men carrying AK-47s and humidity that licked at your face as you stepped out the door.

As they made their way to their gate in Jakarta, and to the restroom, something in her was delighted to have a choice between a toilet and a hole in the ground. There was a hole in the ground in the bathroom! Later, waiting to board the flight, a woman came up. She stood very closely, invading any sense of personal space. Reaching up with her small, brown hands she had taken her pale, American face and said in lilting English "You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen." Her friend was annoyed. She had never been happier.

One last leg of the trip from Jakarta and its guns to Denpasar, Bali. The last flight in for the night, the lights in the airport being shut off, and no one to meet them. They grabbed one of the last taxis out of the airport and said simply, "Hotel?" Two white American girls, zigzagging their way into Kuta Beach.

He brought them to a hotel--a very nice one. $23.00 a night. They agreed to the price, and paid him his fare. The room, clean and spacious, smelled of sandalwood and spices. The carved wooden headboards were intricate and lovely. On the toilet in the bathroom, a sticker with a little man standing on the toilet to squat, with a big "NO" across it. Poor native, who would be wondering where his hole is.

Curling down into the covers that night, she wondered what adventures she was about to have. What the next 4 days would bring.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 83: Baby Blues

Note: I recently came across an article about the depiction of postpartum psychosis on the show Private Practice. I didn't see the show, but read the synopsis and have read enough to feel that they did so many women an injustice in perpetuating myths and stereotypes about the illness of postpartum depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, and psychosis. I wanted to write something, even though I know it isn't a fun topic. It certainly isn't an easy one. I have also never experienced severe PPD and it's related ilnesses, but while the following story is not intended to be autobiographical, I will say that it's something I can easily imagine from where I'm currently standing.

For further information regarding PPD and other post and mental illnesses, please visit


No one likes to admit that they're crazy. Not to themselves. Not to the people that love them. Curled up into a ball on the couch, snuggling with her baby in a soft, yellow blanket, and resting her forehead softly against her son's soft hair, she had to admit it to herself: she was afraid she was losing her mind.

She hadn't thought of it. Hadn't seen it for what it was. Every time her son cried, she walked into his room and greeted him with a smile on her face. Even at three in the morning. She gave him baths while singing "I'm a little teapot" as he gurgled and laughed. She made spaghetti dinner for her husband in the small kitchen of their apartment, and kept things tidy. Every afternoon, she bundled her baby up in his soft green snuggly and went for walks in the hilly suburbs around their town.

She spoke to no one of wanting to climb back into her bed every morning. She tried to ignore the little things, escaping to long, hot showers several times a day. Closing her eyes to sleep at night, she could hear her baby crying, even when he wasn't. She would pull her pillow over her head, turn on her fan, and try to sleep.

But the strangest thing, the thing she couldn't ignore. It had occured as an idea, and become an obsession. She had cancer. Her mind kept trying to tell her that. On her best days, she would sit and remind herself that she felt fine. There was not a single ache. Not so much as one symptom. But then a hard day would come, and she would find herself believing that she didn't have much time to live. Her imagination would run wild, until she was planning her own funeral in her mind and crying over the thought of leaving her husband and her sweet little boy.

She thought about this as she burrowed her face into the soft downy baby hair. She wished she knew what to do. She wished she knew someone to talk to. She wondered if other moms felt this way. A couple times, she'd almost asked her downstairs neighbor, who also had a baby, if she ever felt lonely. If she ever felt bored. Afraid. Stifled. Trapped. But she couldn't quite bring herself to ask, and so they talked, instead, about bottle feeding versus nursing, gross motor development, and different kinds of birth control.

The weeks and months of his baby days were slowly passing. She felt a sadness at not being able to enjoy them with all her heart. She wished that she knew how to feel more like herself again. How to shake the invisible pebbles from her shoes and the cobwebs from her mind. Sighing, she sang her son a song, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 82: Radio Hour

cue soft organ music

Women's voice: Women are only out to get one thing. One thing they desire above all else. One thing to be achieved above all else. What is this thing that lies at the heart of a woman's heart?

organ music fades, sound of footsteps, the hiss of a steam engine, a large clock chiming.

Elise: Oh! I just know we're going to miss it--Paul, what track?
sound of rustling
Paul: Two. Track two--just down there.
footsteps pick up speed
Elise: Hurry!
sound of door opening at the same time you hear a train begin to chug and lurch forward

Elise: sighs We made it! I thought for sure we weren't going to get here on time.
Paul: calmly I don't know why you ever doubt me, my love. You worry entirely too much.
Elise: laughingly And you don't worry at all.
sound of luggage being placed on the floor and pushed under seats

Elise: So, since you've planned this whole trip so secretly, will you tell me yet where we're going?
Paul: You already know where we're going.
Elise: exasperated Well, it's obvious we're in Zurich. It's also obvious that we're leaving. I know we're on a train, but I don't know it's destination.
Paul: chuckles You were the one who said that you wanted our honeymoon to be a surprise.
Elise: pouting But it appears you're going to a keep it a surprise all the way through.

A door opens with a woosh, making the sound of the train louder.
Conductor: Karten, bitte schoen. Tickets, please.

sound of papers rustling, the click of a hole punch, and the door closes again

Paul: Don't worry. You will see where we're going soon enough.
sound of a kiss on the head and Elise laughs lightly

organ music grows louder, then fades. Sound of the train coming to a halt.

Elise: Luzern... Luzern! Is this where we're getting off?
Paul: It is. And it is all yours--the bridge, the cobblestone, the lake, the swans. All ordered especially for you.

luggage pulled out, door opens, and a sound of general train station hubub.

Elise: Paul, wait just one minute. I left something in the compartment of the train.
footsteps, door opening, slight rustle, then door and footsteps again as the train gives a lurch and the whistle signals it's about to leave
Paul: teasing I can see I'll have to keep a close eye on you so you don't get lost.

walking out into the city
Elise: Why, it's beautiful! As beautiful as I've imagined it for years.
Paul: You sound so surprised!
Elise: How often does it happen, that something lives up to the expectations in your mind? Especially someplace you've wanted to see for a very long time?
Paul: Rarely. And agreed--it is breathtaking. Our hotel isn't far, would you like to walk, or shall I arrange a taxi?
Elise: Oh, let's walk. I'm longing to walk.

Elise: Look! Look at the swans. Gliding there, like a picture. And, oh! There's the bridge!
Paul: teasing You are so easily pleased. Maybe we can just go home now, you seem content. But no, I already have another surprise planned for tomorrow.

organ music rises, then fades
Paul: Good morning, my dear. Are you ready for our day out?
Elise: Ready and waiting! Where are we off to?
Paul: No. No--not yet. But you'll soon see. First, to the bus station.

break for the night... just that much took me an hour! It seems ridiculous. Have you figured out yet what women are after??

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 81: "Brought to you by Johnson's Wax!"

I absolutely adore old-time radio. When I was growing up in Utah, KSL radio station played vintage radio every night at 11:00 to midnight. I would lay in my room and my mom would turn up her stereo so I could hear the latest "Fibber McGee and Molly", "Little Orphan Annie," or rarely, our favorite, "Chandu, the Magician!" There is something about listening to vintage radio that makes everything in the world more simple--more right. Everything in black and white.

The shows always start out by announcing who their sponsors are--this is one of the things that I like the most. Sometimes you'll hear a commercial for things you wish you could get. Permit me a couple examples:

Here's one from a 1939 Fibber McGee and Molly sponsor Johnson's CarNew: "Unsolicited letters have been pouring in from listeners everywhere. Some of these comments are from women, who wax polish their own cars without help!" (Can you imagine???? Where can I get some 70 years later?)

From Jack Benny, circa 1937, "I'll bet you don't know the real meaning of the word delicious, or do you? Well, I didn't until I looked it up, and it comes from two Latin words meaning pleasant and charmed, and if that doesn't spell "Molly Rich Grapenuts" then my name isn't Don Wilson. You're as pleased as punch when you sit down to the big tempting bowl of grapenuts, now aren't you?" (Well, now that I' ve been insulted, yes. Yes, I am pleased as punch. Thanks, Don Wilson.)

Following the brief commercial, the shows come on with all their fabulous sound and voice effects. My favorites are the mysteries, with their famous detectives--The Shadow, The Adventures of the Falcon, and the like.

I wonder what it would be like to write a radio show. To have to come up with a story entirely dependent on what you can communicate with sound. I'm amazed at the stories they can weave into their thirty minute, commercial free time slots. I imagine kids and adults sitting around radios listening. Letting their imaginations send shivers down their backs. Being able to listen to a person's voice and create a whole picture of how they look in your minds.

I would like to be better at listening, at creating stories in my mind. I would especially love to be better at creating stories that catch people's imaginations--whose plots and characters are intriguing and delightful.

So, stealing a line from "The Adventures of the Falcon"-- "I believe all women are alike. They're only out for one thing", tomorrow I'm going to write a story based on that line. And remember, like The Shadow says, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 80: The Potty Train

My favorite part of parenting has to be potty training.

The Boy is nearly two and a half. People tell me that this is the critical age to potty train. They say that if I don't start now, then he'll start resisting. If I don't start now, he'll be in diapers until he's FOUR. Besides, a friend of his just potty trained in 4 days--how bad could it be?

So, in an effort to avoid 18 more months of Wrestlemania: Diaper Edition, today we made the trek to buy Big Boy Pants. A small but insistent part of my mind was wondering what delusional psychosis I was laboring under. It drug up memories of a not-so-distant past and potty training the Girl. It moaned of messes and stress and begging and pleading that had all come to NOTHING until I backed off and let her do it when she was ready. I tried to silence this part of my mind with the promise of a date with Mr. Pillow at naptime. We made our way to the underpants section, where I held up Thomas, Spiderman, and Lightning McQueen options for The Boy. I used my excited, but calm, authority voice. The voice I reserve for large, strange dogs. I asked Boy which underpants he wanted. He chose Spiderman. For good measure, I tossed Lightning McQueen in the cart as well, in case his whim should change.

Before we'd even gotten out of the kids section, he was trying to chuck the Spiderman unders out of the cart: "No want." I insisted that we were going to go home and wear Big Boy Pants. I told him treats would be involved. Suddenly, clutching his precious underpants as the key to his desires, he started asking for candy, yogurt covered pretzels, pop, toys, a new bike, and a shiny hairbrush with tourmaline in it. I caved like the frightened deer in the headlights of a mother that I am.

Upon arriving home, I discovered that Spiderman and his gang had disappeared on the drive home. "Uh-oh, no pants, sorry" he said. He looked triumphant until I proudly pulled out Lightning McQueen. Defeat. With some trepidation, we put on the glow-in-the-dark underoos. I placed the potty in front of Bugs Bunny with some yogurt pretzels and grapes and left him seated upon his throne.

And guess what? The Boy did it. All by himself. What joy! What rejoicing! What chocolate came his way! (That little voice was back--reminding me that The Girl had gotten a SINGLE M&M for her potty training successes. I silenced the voice with grapes.) I made a huge deal out of it, pranced around with him, and told him he was wonderful. The light in his eyes showed that this potty thing might be okay after all.

So, at the end of the day, I am proud to say that I changed one less diaper today. Yes, we may have had to do a whole extra load of laundry as we do damage control for less victorious attempts. We are going to have to figure out how to teach the kid to aim. We may have just begun a journey that very well could take the next 18 months of my life, and bring me to within an inch of my sanity. Tomorrow that small voice will be stronger, and I will curse the Potty Training Muses, but for tonight I'll dream of the Potty Train Express. And, in the meantime, if anyone out there would be willing to come and potty-train my child in 24 hours, I'll happily pay you your weight in grapes and yogurt covered pretzels.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 79: Something Wonderful

I believe that I owe you good people something wonderful after a few days. Hm.

From writing prompt.


Her name was Angie. She had shiny, black hair that curled in ringlets down her back and big hazel eyes. She lived in a quiet, old apartment on a quiet old street next to a Portuguese restaurant and an antique store. Every evening, she closed her shades and did yoga stretches on her hardwood floors or made herself some loose leaf herbal tea. While she stretched and breathed and pondered, she listened to opera. She enjoyed pop opera, like Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban. Sometimes the Three Tenors. But her favorite was anything by Wagner. Soaring, long, and ferocious. She loved it. She would close her eyes and let the voices carry her. Sometimes she would sing, at the top of her lungs, with her off kilter, uneven voice. Singing through an entire chorus would leave her limp, drained, and blissfully happy, fully relaxed into a yoga pose or holding a warm, empty mug in her cupped hand.

In the morning, when she woke up--early, before the sun, she would stand in the dark, brushing her teeth. Combing her hair back into a ponytail. Applying lipstick to her lipsand then vanilla scented lotion to her hands. Keeping her eyes closed and her shoulders relaxed until she stepped out her door. Then she walked purposefully, swiftly to the bus stop and caught the number 32 bus--always on time--to her work. The city sanitation brigade. Zipping into a navy blue jumpsuit, slipping on heavy leather working gloves, she jumped into the cab of a rumbling green "Waste Collection Vehicle" as her boss, Vin, called it. A front loading garbage truck. Rumbling off into the morning, to wake people up to the sound of garbage cans being emptied. And in her mind, Wagner played.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 78: Out Sick

I've been out the past few days. Sick. Very sick.

So even though this isn't really funny, it was my only attempt at levity today...

I am feeling much better than I was Friday/Saturday. That is thanks to a very kind, thoughtful The Spouse who let me sleep more than I have since.... um.... high school. Be back tomorrow!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 77: To the Tower Born

I finished my first Goodwill book for my book review!

I read the book
To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell. And you know what?? I *liked* it! It was fun, entertaining, and had the right dose of suspense in it. It is the story of the two princes who disappeared from the Tower of London in 1483, and speculates what might have happened to them.

According to Amazon reviews, several people felt that Ms. Maxwell could've done more research for this book. I'm not an expert on this time period in history by any means, so maybe that's why it didn't bother me. (Really, my only other forays into it are either from Shakespeare or The Other Boleyn Girl. While The Other Boleyn Girl seemed to be better researched, sometimes even painfully so, this account was just better reading.) I found the characters to be engaging, the storyline to be interesting--even if not totally plausible. The end left me hoping for a sequel; a pretty high compliment in my book.

4 out of 5 stars for enjoyability. If you come across it at Goodwill for 50 cents, definitely worth the money.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 76: Family Planning

There are a lot of older, nice looking southern gentlemen walking about in a confused daze at my local Walmart tonight. Must be Valentine's Day coming up.

Wednesday nights are my weekly "alone time for mom" outing. Tonight, it was raining torrents, so I stuck close to home and wandered aimlessly around Walmart. As I was walking away from the pharmacy and towards the cosmetics section, there was an older guy. Wranglers. Ball cap. Sunglasses--at night. Standing smack dab in front of the "Family Planning" display. He was holding, I kid you not, a pregnancy test. Trying to look very interested while managing, instead, to look a little harassed. Yes, kind sir, it is a bit hard to be discreet when Family Planning is at the end of the Feminine Protection aisle. I understand.

A little further down was a man trying to catch a Team Associate's attention to open the locked perfume display case. "I just need that there last bottle uh' Magical Musk perfume." Magical Musk? Heaven forbid. I can only hope it was a request.

As I continued to wander I saw more lost souls with carts that had blenders, huge stuffed bears, and wax lips. There was a dude in the "Intimates" section with his head in his hands. He was probably trying to decide between the size 22/24 Super Shaping girdle in his cart and the oh-so-skimpy zebra print thong and bra set in his hand. I saw him on the way out with some beer, a King Size Snickers bar, and jerky. Good choice, my friend. Good choice.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Still Day 75: "The Differently-Abled Economy"

YAY! New followers!!!!!! But none of you said what you wanted in return??? Thank you for making my whole day!

I was listening to NPR the other day and they were debating on what to call the current economic recession. To quote "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" on their January 31st show:
Pandemic, contagion, crisis, catastrophe, disaster, fiasco, I'm not a big crunch fan, it's not a scary enough word. But what are we gonna call this current trouble? Will children 40 years from now say, "Grandma, what did you do during the post-millenial cluster-bleep"? A good name should reflect at the depth of the crisis, and perhaps hint at it's cause, perhaps The Great National Binge and Purge, The Differently-abled Economy, and The United States and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Investment Return." We should call it, instead of the Great Depression, The Severe Depression and then the stimulus package can include Zoloft and Ben n' Jerrys--the Clinical Depression.
(These people are funny, I tell you.)

So, because of this Clincial Depression our country has going on, I'm going to start a new segment on my blog. It's called: The Goodwill Book Review.

Have you ever taken a good, long look at the bookshelves at a Goodwill, Deseret Industries, Salvation Army, or--really--any high class thrift store? It is a veritable smorgasbord of high end literature. You can find, amongst the stacks, self-help, comedy, romance, cookbook, and welding instruction. So what if that edition of What Color Is Your Parachute 1997 is a bit, oh, 12 years ago. A true principle is a true principle, my friends.

Now, I happen to be a book fiend who could easily plop down hundreds of dollars at my local bookstores. I like libraries. They're great. But libraries have a general "shush" policy that doesn't happen to mesh well with my children's "tornado siren" volume settings. So, whenever I go to the library, I find myself frantically pulling books off the shelf that aren't really good and I never read, all because I am carrying three wiggling, giggling children. By the time I get the books home, actually get the books out of the car three days later, read the first chapter or two of any of them, they're already overdue and I might as well have bought a good book to begin with.

Here is where Goodwill comes in. You can buy any paperback--ANY PAPERBACK--for 50 cents to $1.00. Hardbacks will cost $2.00. So, since I love books, but I also love my children and don't want to put us on food stamps just to satisfy my thirst for the written word, I'll now be reviewing my latest pre-loved find here.

First up? To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell. I'm only 100 pages in, but I can already tell you one thing: I like it a darn sight better than that punishing novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, that I read last year. Stay tuned for this and other exciting titles which may or may not include PRUNING YOUR GARDEN, The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, and The Spaniard's Defiant Virgin: A Harlequin Romance.

Day 75: Do Unto Others...

Today is the LeeLou Blog baby shower--they are hosting a great online shower to benefit two sweet NICU babies, Mia and Kayleigh. Both babies have amazing stories. Both families have gazillions of dollars in medical bills. Hop over to LeeLou to get the links to their stories and enter lots of FUN giveaways.

Click HERE to come to the shower.

I am really impressed with the sweet women at LeeLou, who would do something so meaningful for people they'll probably never meet. Kudos.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 74: Pivot

So, I had 16 followers. And now I have 15. Which made me SO SAD when I noticed. Isn't that ridiculous?? But, really, because I'm this pathetic--if anyone out there will p-lease be a lemming and click "follow" just so I can get back up to the number 16, I'll think of something good to give you. What do you want? Messy Valentine's cookies made by a 2 and 4 year old? My (not) secret recipe for homemade eggnog that's to die for? A video of me singing "I'm a little teapot, short and stout..."? If you'll be my follower, I'll try and make it up to you. *wink and grin*

Uh-hem. Now that I'm through with my groveling for the day.

I saw something in The Reader's Digest yesterday about writing your memoirs. It said that, to get started, you might want to write down 6 pivotal moments or important events in your life that you might be able to write about or expand on. Hmmm...

1. Taking a drive with my dad when I was 6 down to Utah from Idaho so he could interview for a job. Him taking that job would bring us to a new home in the middle of hundreds of acres of apple tree orchards, complete with no television reception, a treehouse, and an entire mountain as a backyard. Bliss.

2. The realization in my senior year that I was the biggest girl in choir and if I gained any more weight they would have to special order me a choir dress. Which meant I was fat. Which meant I would never have a boyfriend or get married. Which got me off my tookus and walking one mile a day with weights in my hands and, eventually, into a size 6 wedding dress. (The fact that I was ever a size 6 seems unbelievable to me now. Time to dig out those weights.)

3. A phone call from my mom on a winter afternoon on Rexburg, Idaho informing me that she wouldn't be coming up for Women's Week because I'd been hired part-time as an Especially for Youth Counselor that summer. Because of that phone call I didn't go to Alaska with my roommate, went east of the Mississippi River for the first time, met my future spouse, met my future ex-fiance, and ended up leaving on a mission 6 months later than I'd intended to.

4. Opening a big, white envelope that a letter with the words "Switzerland, Zurich Mission" on it. This would result in a whirlwind 18 months in a place that I'm still homesick for.

5. One night in the car with my best friend Dave when he said "My roommates don't understand why we're not dating." In the split-second pause that followed, that decision that I had to make of "Do I say anything? Do I confess my undying love? Do I just go ahead and propose and hope for the best?" which resulted in "I don't really understand it either..." and a very long, involved conversation. Which led to a short, involved engagement, and one happily ever after.

6. A phone call from The Spouse saying "Hey, I might have a job in Charlotte, North Carolina. What do you think of North Carolina?" My reply was, "Charlotte? Is it close to the ocean?" 4 years and two more kids later, we're still here. (And the ocean is about 3 hours away, if you were wondering.)

Anyone out there feel like sharing? Can you think of 1 or more "pivotal" moments in your life?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 73: She Came with the Couch

So, the Wee One is almost five months old. I've been reflecting on that this week a lot because one of my sister-in-laws and a really good friend both gave birth to Bouncing Baby Boys on Thursday. This brings up happy remembrances of labor and deliveries past, and a slight smug gladness that I'm not the one about to be grabbed by the ears and spun about by life with a newborn until I'm chucked on to a couch with no energy left for joy. But I digress. Because I have a great birth story, and I want to tell it as I've been reflecting on it.

My youngest daughter, you see, was born on the couch in our living room. And this experience has taught me a few things:
1. When people find out you had a baby on the couch they always ask "Did you plan it?" with a slight tilt of their eyebrow. My response is always "Oh, heavens no!" and then they laugh and we can get on with the joke. Sometimes I wonder what their response would be if I said "Yup! Only way to go!" I have a hunch they'd then shift me to "Flower Child Tree Hugger" status in their minds.
2. Always, always the next question is "Do you still have the couch?" I find this to be a bit puzzling because I wonder, honestly, if other people have some sort of disposable couch, that I don't know about? Should I have chucked it to the curb with the garbage that Thursday? Should I have received a new one, in lieu of the free diaper bag provided at the hospital? (Really, with the refund that should've been coming from my OB, I could've bought a new couch.) So, to answer this question: Yes, we still have the couch.
3. When people ask if we still have the couch, they are implying that said birth on said couch must've been a horribly nasty, bloody affair. Some even ask if there was blood everywhere. Some of the people who ask this have had more children than I have. That's why I have to scratch my head a bit. So, to answer this one: No, my whole living room didn't look like a CSI crime scene. (We did throw away a few towels.)
4. People always want to know if you freaked out, or if your husband freaked out. Honestly? I think he was too busy trying to yell into the speaker phone with the lovely 911 people, get his shoelace off his shoes, pray to all that was holy that our other kids wouldn't wake up, and catch a child to freak out. As for me? I think I was already wondering about that OB refund.
5. Best advice from 911 dispatch: "Don't drop it! It's going to be slippery!"
6. Worst advice from Labor and Delivery triage nurse Wayne: "It's probably gas cramps. Call me back when your water breaks." (Oh--time from water breakage to delivery? 8 minutes.)
7. Apparently, according to 911, when you're about to have a baby you need a shoelace and a safety pin. The shoelace is to tie off the cord. We had no safety pin, so I never got to find out what it was for. I'm still curious.
7. Here's something I'd never known before: those labor and delivery nurses are hoping for a chance to deliver a baby on their own. They were all so bummed that I'd already had her when I got there, because they'd gotten a heads-up from my lovely friend Wayne that things were going along mighty quick. They hoped they'd get to catch her, before the doctor had a chance. Sorry, nurses. Maybe next time.
8. In my mind, that tiny newborn will always be named Bonnie. Because even though we ended up going with a different name, for just a couple hours, she was named Bonnie and everyone thought it was darling.
9. Okay, last one. It's this: home birth isn't just for Flower Child Tree Huggers. I grew up knowing that "Home delivery is for pizza." (A direct quote of my parents.) I have heard many lectures on The Things That Can Go Wrong. I would never have intentionally planned a home birth. But, you know what? I loved it. I loved welcoming my daughter into my husband's and my waiting arms. I loved that she was born into a quiet, dark room with no one rushing in and out. I loved the she was mine, all mine, and no one rushed to take her away for weights or measures or eye drops. I am not, at all, knocking hospital births. I am grateful for good obstetricians who are good at what they do. But would I do it again? Absolutely.

I'm still waiting on that refund.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 72: Dream a little dream

My oldest daughter went to her first ballet lesson today. I found a *real* ballet class. The kind where the little girls are required to have their hair in a bun, wear ballet slippers that aren't Isotoners, and aren't allowed to wear tutus to practice. The instructor takes this seriously, and it shows in her expectations and her methods. I sat outside in the hallway and watched my little girl with her teacher. I looked at the big blue eyes and the curly hair pinned into a tight little bun. I watched her as she watched herself in the mirror, her little person almost overflowing with excitement.

As I sat there, I wondered if she has it in her to be a dancer. I wonder if, unlike me, this will be a talent she has. I wonder if, instead, I should be enrolling her in ice skating? gymnastics? violin? I'm glad that she's in this ballet class because she asked, on her own, if she could take ballet. I'm glad I didn't suggest it because, I'm afraid, sometimes, that I'll try to live out my own dreams through my kids.

Growing up, I had a poster in my room of ballet slippers. Each January, I bought a new Hallmark "Ballerinas" calendar. I coveted pointe slippers. As I got older, it was the ballerina's muscular back and lean legs that I coveted. So, my junior year of college I enrolled in a college level Beginning Ballet class. I showed up the first day, breathless and excited. I had, in my possession, real dancing shoes. A black leotard. "Theater pink" tights. I walked in the door and sat in a circle with 20 other 20-something girls, all smiling at each other sheepishly. All understanding, without saying it, that we were just trying to live out unfulfilled dreams. (The lone guy in the glass, blushing in his dance cup, seemed to be confused about why he was there. I think he thought it would be a good way to meet girls.) Then, in walked our ruthless instructor who couldn't seem to grasp that none of us even dreamed of having the potential to be prima ballerinas. She called me to the front of the class one day, had me move me feet into first position, and pointed out that since my knees are hyper extended, I could never get more than a B in the class, let alone have any sort of aptitude for dancing. I withdrew from the class shortly thereafter--the end of my dancing career.

So, as I watch my daughter through a glass doorway, as she tendues and plies, I wonder, is it for her or for me? Have you ever wondered anything like it, and about what?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day 71: In Hot Water

My morning shower has become something of a joke these days. Seriously.

First off, our shower is pretty small. Not miniscule, but small. In fact, small enough that my husband once broke the wall with his butt when he leaned over. I laughed hard enough over it that it was almost worth the $1,000 repair job. (I kid you not.) This cozy little shower also has two temperatures: Glacial Waterfall and Volcanic Rain. It is either cold, or it is scalding hot. I personally go for scalding--to the point that my skin turns a lovely and most becoming shade of fuschia. The only exception to these two temperatures is an odd phenomenon known as Lukewarm that shows up on occassion. No idea why.

So, now you can envision this shower, right? You can see the narrow walls with slightly different colored grout. You can picture the showerhead spewing forth hot, steaming water. Well. Add to that picture me and all my childrens. Because why is it that I can plunk my kids down in front of "Martha Speaks" and leave them totally engrossed, but right as I'm going to lather my head with a generic Aveda rip-off shampoo, they come bursting in? Doors thrown open wide, socks flying off, insistently calling "SHOWAH! SHOWAH!" At which point the glass door is flung open and little clothed bodies try to wiggle their way in while my dripping wet arms, with the hot water cascading down them and on to the floor, try to disrobe my children in less time than it takes them to take two steps.

Imagine, too, that I discover that the Boy has a poopy diaper. Do I go and search the house, dripping wet, looking for wipes? Do I make do with toilet paper? Do I step out of the shower and just hose off his backside and wait until the coast is clear to get in again? Hm. You probably don't want to know which of those I choose most often.

Finally, all ready, we now have me and the Girl and the Boy in the shower. But wait! There's more! Because the Boy came in wearing a plastic construction hat and carrying a soccer ball and the Girl has brought along her umbrella, which she insists needs to be opened to keep the shampoo that I'm trying to rinse out of my hair, out of her eyes.

I am now furiously washing my face, determined to extricate myself from this brawl as speedily as possible. The Boy has plunked his pudgy bum down on the drain, so the water is now up to my ankles. The Girl is pretending to be a doggy and crawling in circles around my feet. Neither want their hair washed. I grab my razor to shave my armpits, and the kids spy a new toy. There is no compromise on this one: the answer is no, it has always been no, and they will always ask anyway.

As soon as I step out and wrap myself in my towel: they want the water off, they want towels, they want to be carried so that they don't slip on the floor that is wet from me getting them undressed. (Remember?)

Sometimes I daydream of a big, huge, ginormous shower with perfectly heated water... all to myself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 70: Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

After talking to the Spouse, thinking it over, and getting a few little comments, I think I've decided how to proceed. I am going to work on two things, the first will be a memoir. That's what I've decided to call those little, random "me" posts that come up. I was feeling all guilty and torn about posting more of that because, you see, I didn't start this whole thing as a mommy blog and I don't want it to become a mommy blog. At the same time, I do have things that happen every day that make me laugh or give me pause that I would like to share sometimes. Then I came across the genre "memoir" and, for some reason, having a title for it (other than mommy blog) made me feel much better. So--project 1 will be memoir entries, and there will probably be more of them than the other. Project 2 will be a work of fiction that I'll be working on daily, offline. I will post chapters, and parts of chapters, here as I work on them and feel ready to launch them into the world.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 69: Project.

For the past couple weeks, I feel like I've been floundering a wee bit. Can't seem to come up with new ideas. What struck me, as I was laying in my bed at 3:00 this morning trying to go back to sleep, is that what I really want to do is expound on some of the things I've already written and turn them into more serious projects. I'm interested in working harder on Clementine, as well as the Father Christmas story, and possibly more historical fiction in the vein of Chiddingly. If any of you have something you'd like to see me work on, shoot me a quick comment and let me know! Otherwise, start looking for entries that are chapters or installments in a story. (Woohoo!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Day 68: Jerusalem

I wish I could've seen Jerusalem. It seems almost pathetic to know so much about a place, and never have seen it. I wish I knew what all those places looked like and smelled like and felt like. I wish I had those memories. I wish I had gone when I had the chance. I imagine a certain way the air would look from the Mount of Olives, looking down at the temple mount. I wonder how it would feel to sit under an olive tree with an open notebook in my lap, and close my eyes and listen to the leaves. I wonder how it would feel, and how my heart would feel, to lean my head against a stone in a garden. I wish I could have my ears filled with the calls of muezzins and their call to prayer. To feel grit in my teeth and have sunbrowned skin from sitting and listening to lectures outside. I wish I had the chance to listen to Yiddish and Hebrew and be able to sort out a few phrases. To study hard and learn new things and see new things. And to be young again, truly young. With nothing to worry about but myself, and a sense that even the problems of this place could be solved. But I chose a different road, or--rather... the world chose a different road for me.

I wish things were different.