Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Everything!

It's Christmas again, which means we didn't buy you presents
and we didn't send you any cards or pictures or anything.

Sorry about that.

But we did do that thing where we record a song and send you the link 
so you can download it or listen to it on your computer box. 
scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on each song to download.

(Or, since it's a free country and you can listen to whatever music you want, 
just don't worry about it.)

This year we did one of my favorites, In the Bleak Midwinter.
And we stuck the old ones up there, too, just in case.

We hope you enjoy our little ditties!

If not, just pretend this Instagram of a Christmas card 
is an actual Christmas card 
that you got from us in your mailbox.

And pretend it has a picture of us where we look awesome.

Merry Everything & Happy Always, you guys!

Love, the Whalens.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I did it!!!

I said the *closing* prayer in my pants

(Actually, I said it in the microphone while I was wearing pants).

I asked God if he would help us mourn with those that mourn
and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

And I've still got my temple recommend!

The only thing that would have made this day better
is if I could have skipped the spanxs.
It's been a while since I pulled on those teacher pants.
Too many Candy Cane Joe-Joes.

Thanks for all the hugs, likes, loving comments, and support!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Not About Pants!!

I'm a Mormon. But you already knew that. I'm also a feminist. But you probably already knew that, too. And I know you know this: I do not like to wear pants. My favorite part of the day is when I shut the front door and immediately take my trousers off. Sometimes I replace them with pajama pants. Sometimes I just sit in front of the space heater in my crazy underwear. And you are welcome for that visual.

When I grew up and found out that my butt is big and my thighs are thunderous, I learned to love skirts and dresses. Mostly dresses. I never fall asleep on the futon in my jeans. I always fall asleep in my Sunday dresses. Because they are so scrumptious and comfy, you know? And I'm extremely classy. So while I don't always look forward to church, I usually do look forward to spending the day in a nice A-line frock.

This week, some Mormon feminists asked the rest of us Mormon feminists to show our solidarity and wear pants to church this Sunday. Immediately, Facebook lit on fire. Everyone and their dogs started weighing on the merits and de-merits on pants on ladies at church (which is funny because dogs don't wear pants or dresses). I got anxious. (Wha?! Me?) Do I wear pants to show my fellow worshippers where my heart is? Do I risk making them think I'm even more of a weirdo than they already think I am? (I've already pegged myself as wacky by adding "and sisters!" to any scripture reference that addresses brethren...). Do I pull my PR slacks out of the back of my closet and squeeeeeeeeze into them, even though they're roughly two sizes too small? Do I participate in a movement that I believe in, even if doing so makes me uncomfortable, so that I can tell my daughters (should I ever have any) that I tried to make things better for them the best way I knew how?

Honestly, I don't know yet.

I took the issue to my Facebook friends. And immediately after I posted a link to a news article and asked if anyone was planning on pants-ing it up this Sunday, I panicked. Did I not learn my lesson during that horrible election?

But you friends are the best.

Nearly 100 kind, understanding, respectful comments and only a couple instances of snark and/or misunderstanding. Not everyone agreed with one another, but honestly, it seemed like everyone was trying to understand. Compared to the now removed "Wear Pants this Sunday" event page, what happened on my comment thread was positively loving.

Guys. Ladies. That's what this whole pants thing was about. Not about whether or not it's OK to wear pants to church (it is). Not about feminists believing women should be identical to men (they don't). It was about raising awareness, starting a dialog, creating a space full of love, empathy, and greater understanding. Some people failed; some passed with flying colors.

You may not feel the inequities in the church or in our society at large, but you know what? Other people do. Lots of other people. And it hurts them inside. It hurts me inside. At this point, I'm not really asking for radical changes. I just want people to listen to each other, to acknowledge each other's concerns and fears and pains. To walk a mile in their Ann Taylor, pin-striped, flat front trousers. Or whatever.

And if you see me at church this Sunday in a dress, know that I still support my MoFem trouser-wearing sisters. And if I show up in pants, please keep in mind that I am probably terrified and itching to get home and swap them out for my pajamas and a space heater.

Friday, December 7, 2012

On Day Dates and the Christmas Blues

You may not think the two are connected, but trust me. I'm an English grad student. I will find a relationship between a lovely, day-long date with my dude and feeling bummed out around the holidays.

It all started when our brilliant friends, the Lyons, posted that they were looking for a couple to shoot for their photography workshop. Thinking (incorrectly) that I didn't have to work on Thursday and assuming (bravely) that Rob could take the day off since the music industry basically shuts down for the holidays, I volunteered us. If you know Amelia and Justin, you know they are the coolest and talented-est, and you get why I would be willing to do anything — even get my picture taken — just to hang out with them for a second. (One of my little-known super powers is that I look amazingly awkward in most photos. Body dysmorphia, nose get the idea. Luckily, the Lyons have a super power, too. It's making dorkusses like me look decent. Moving on....) 

After failed attempts at the sock bun (disaster) and false eyelashes (über-disaster), we headed down to Huntington Beach to meet up with the Lyons and their pupils. It was just lovely ... like taking a hot tub time machine back to the day when they took our engagement photos almost five years ago. And for a minute, I was 24 again — working toward a promising journalism career (ha!), driving a car that still had a mat in the trunk since it hadn't yet been wrecked three times, never having to work on the weekends, always trying to "lose three pounds".... No thesis to write, no need to juggle multiple jobs, no crippling fear of inadequacy (truth: it was there, just lying dormant). No well-meaning friends telling us that it's OK that I just turned 29, we can still probably have a family if I get pregnant before I turn 30. No reason to wonder if I should feel bad that we still live in a teensy one-bedroom apartment and don't have enough money to fly ourselves home for the holidays. For one day, my anxiety disorder took a break, and we got to just enjoy being together with our friends, watching them be passionate and knowledgable and generally amazing.

Here's where the Christmas Blues come in. It's a thing. Definitely a first-world thing, since other people less fortunate than I am are too busy to feel bad about their lives because they're out there digging up blood diamonds with bare fingernails. But Christmas Blues can happen. Even to someone like me. My life is good! My husband is nice to me. My dog loves me so much that he wants to live inside my mouth. I have access to almost every modern convenience of the industrialized world (except a bidet...but soon...). And I'm surrounded by loving friends and an extremely supportive (if extremely dysfunctional) family. And yet here I am, sinking like Artax in the swampy mire of my perceived insufficiencies.

But now, here's where I snap out of it. It's time to stop comparing myself to the shining, happy people on the Internet. It's time to get off the futon, brush my teeth, and find a way to make someone else's life easier. It's time to remember that even though we only have a handful of days off together every year, sometimes I get to have a whole entire day with Rob in Huntington Beach, where the world looks like this:

Huntington Beach Pier at Christmastime.

That is something to feel very, very good about.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dumb dog.

One box of Swiss Miss Cocoa: $2
One trip to the vet: $400
One large Comfy Cone: $28

Watching your dumb dog flail around like a maniac in the cone of shame?: Priceless.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There are injured triathlete mamas among us, y'all!

Hi guys! It's been a while, I know. My brain is made of pudding. Too much work. Too much thesis. Too much crazy nonsense for the world. But that is a post for another day. Today's post is way more important. Today's post is about helping someone who is not our own selves.

Some of you probably already know this, but one of my best friends from Jr. High and high school was in a devastating mountain biking accident this past year. Some of you maybe even know Brittany Nielsen Schramm as the brilliant, hot babe a bunch of us went to school with. Some of you may even remember that she and I went to Disneyland together in 9th grade, and one day at Disneyland, we wore matching tank-tops and shorts from Old Navy, as well as matching cargo hats (as that was the style in those days) and matching leis. Also, as I recall, matching Doc Marten sandals, as that was the style in those days, too. Gosh I wish I could post a picture of that on this blog right now, said not me, ever.

Still, many of you may not know that Brittany is a mom of two little kids and an incredible athlete. She has competed in marathons and triathlons, usually placing somewhere near the top even when she was pregnant or just recovering from having a baby. Last April, she injured herself while training for a triathlon. She and her husband were mountain biking in Arizona when she hit a huge rock and crashed; she broke her neck and back, and now she's paralyzed from the chest down. She's been doing intensive rehab and kicking major butt-cheeks in the process! She's re-learning how to live life in a wheelchair and be a mom as a paraplegic. But right now, she can't even lift her kids up to give them a hug. Her husband just graduated from chiropractic school and they are swimming in hospital bills and student loans. 


                                           Photos of Brittany before the accident (left) and after (right).

Recently, she's been given an amazing opportunity to be a participant in an experimental stem cell procedure that could give her back the feeling in her legs and torso. But it'll cost $50,000 and has to be done by Jan. 2013, before her injury gets too old. 

Maybe, in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, you, my dear readers, could find it in your hearts to shell out some cold hard cash to help Brittany pay for this potentially life-changing surgery. Think about it today, while you're in the shower, or walking to work, or picking up your kids. Think about it when you're at the gym. Think about what your life would be like if you couldn't do any of those things. Think about what it would be like if you fell out of your wheelchair and, before you could move on with your day, you had to call your husband at work so he could come home and lift you back into your chair. Think about it when you're online today, pinning all those cute clothes and accessories you want your hubby to buy you for Christmas. 

So, after you've given it some thought. Go to this website called "Help Brittany Walk Again," read her story, and make a donation. Then if you want, check out her own personal blog, "One Push at a Time," and keep up with her journey.

Think about all the things you've posted on Facebook and Instagram that you've been thankful for this month. If we help Brittany, maybe, in a few years, she'll be able to post how thankful she is for friends who helped make it possible for her to walk again. Just a thought.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Before we get into the details, I want to show this text I sent to my family today:

First of all, you should know that the band is not called Shitgun Honeymoon. That was a mistake. Autocorrect, why?!

The band is actually called Shotgun Honeymoon. You may remember them from such posts as 
this one. This is the band that Rob has been playing with since before we got married, and they've been collaborating on this EP for the last little while.

Not to brag, but my brilliant and talented and handsome husband did like a buttload of work on this thing. First of all, he helped arrange the songs. B) He played the drums, auxiliary percussion, and sang backing vocals. And finally, he engineered the bugger, then produced, edited, mixed, and mastered it.

Sometimes people are all like, "You guys are so busy! Why you no hang out with us?" And then we're like, because after Rob gets home from working eight hours every day, he sits down and works for a whole bunch more hours. Me? I just probably don't like you. I'd rather sit on my futon without trousers on, watch Dr. Who on my mom's Netflix, and eat peanut butter straight out of the jar. (JK, guys! Poetic license!)

But sometimes, all those working hours turn into something. Something like this Culmination EP, which, if you have $4.95, you can buy right now on iTunes! Or Amazon

Bonus fun facts: my mom plays her viomalin on it, too. She's quite good, you know. 
Also, I sang on two tracks. But you don't have to listen to those if you don't want to.

So, guys! Do us a solid and give these songs a listen. You'll like them, I think. And if you don't, that's OK. It won't hurt our feelings. It's just that we worked really hard on them and our self-esteem is all wrapped up in them. NBD. ;)

Alright, folks! That's if for the shameless plug. Have a wonderful Tuesday and Happy All Hallow's Eve Eve!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

About the time we saw Peter Gabriel.

It's our first date. I'm sitting at a wobbly table across from Rob at the little Mexican restaurant in Hollywood that isn't there anymore and trying to impress him with my encyclopedic music knowledge that is not so encyclopedic. I mean, I know stuff, but I learned most of it from Pop Up Video. Rob is the one who knows all the good bands, the ones I haven't heard about yet because they are only playing on the hipster radio waves that the cool kids hear in their brains. It's 2007, so I'm probably spewing some nonsense about the Cold War Kids (for whom I make no apologies since they are completely incredible) when I hear those oh so familiar bars: Love...I get so lost...sometimes.... Those strains that bring to mind John Cusack and boomboxes for any red-blooded American born between 1970 and 1985.

I don't want to say anything. For all I know, Rob thinks Peter Gabriel is "pedestrian" or some other music critic-y word for "no good." But he must know. He must be reading my mind because he looks in my eyes and says, "I love this song."

One year later, I'm getting my wedding dress fitted at David's Bridal. We're six weeks out from the wedding and my perfect vintage wedding dress doesn't fit because somehow my waist is larger than that of Audrey Hepburn's anorexic cousin. So I'm making do at the chain in Burbank. The eternally patient in-house alterations lady is doing a bang-up job Frankenstein-ing my cheap, mass-produced gown, and I am not superstitious. Rob is back here with me, letting me know that he's totally going to be OK if I bring the hemline up to just under my knees. In Your Eyes starts playing on the adult contemporary satellite station, and we lock eyes in the mirror and smile like a couple of doofy dorkusses.

Two Fridays ago, Rob told me he accidentally won tickets to Peter Gabriel from KCRW. But there were three strikes against us: it was Tuesday, so I was working; my mom was coming into town and we only had two tickets; it was in Santa Barbara. We steeled ourselves for the very real possibility that we might just miss this show. But the stars aligned. Mom was down for it and Craigslist had an extra ticket. Maria was willing to cover me, so I left work early. We made it, and we heard Peter Gabriel sing In Your Eyes for reals. And it wasn't just him we heard. It was me, and Rob, and every other person in that ampitheatre, singing at the top of our John Hughes-loving lungs. And it was magical. Especially when John Cusack came out on the stage and the mega-drunk fella behind us screamed "Eff yeah! Say Anything! Effing John Cusack!!" Classy crowd.

On the way out, I texted my dad to let him know that we saw his childhood best friend, Cameron Crowe, on the stage that night. My dad shot back, "Did you meet him? Did you tell him who you were?"

Not this time, dad. But there will be other Peter Gabriel shows. We'll get our chance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oh, hai! And some election humor.

Sorry I've been MIA on here for the past several weeks. I've been adjusting to life with no classes. It's bananas. I should have way more time on my hands, but, you know ... Netflix. Anyway, I've been spending all of my time coming up with these sweet election season tag lines for Facebook. Peep these gems:

  • Facebook: Letting you know which of your friends think you're ignorant and uninformed since 2008.
  • Facebook: We tell you who to avoid during election season so you don't have to find out the hard way.
  • Facebook: Where you can watch your friends try to demystify the abortion rights quagmire. Every four years.
  • Facebook: Without us, how would you know not to mention your views on gay rights around your Mother-in-Law?
  • Facebook: Nuanced arguments need not apply.
And last but not least...

  • Facebook: Converting people from one political party to another since ... never.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I was a Mean Girl.

A while ago, I wrote this post about my anxiety and panic attacks.

Yesterday, I got this comment:

When I opened up my email and read it, I laughed so loud that Rob could hear me in the shower. (Let's be honest, that's not that big of a deal. The shower is about 2 1/2 baby steps away from the futon. Our apartment is bitty.) He said, "You know you have to come tell me what that was, right?" So I groaned and made the 0.4 second trek to the bathroom to read it to him out loud. And then he laughed, too. Because he agreed! Because it's all true.

Well, not the karma bit. I mean, I believe in karma. But I get panic attacks because of an anxiety disorder that I've had since way before I was "dishonest, evasive, aloof and just plain mean."

I'll start off by saying I appreciate the compliment. I get that Zooey Deschanel thing a lot, and while I'm not as cute as she is, it's a better visual association than ... I don't know ... Bruce Vilanch.

That comment got me thinking. I wish it was funny because it was all made up. I wish I could show it to people and they would say, Oh, that's ridiculous! You were none of those things to the boys you dated. And then I would say, I know right? Whoever this is is like totally obsessed with me! But it's funny because it's true! I can't argue with the guy. My husband reminds me all the time what a chore it was to date me at first. He even tells this story about finishing up a particularly trying phone conversation, and then throwing the phone on his bed with a disgusted sigh and resolution to never call me again.

I was hard to date. I thought verbal sparring was an important part of flirting because I read too many Jane Austen novels. And after my first college boyfriend (who had a bit of lying problem, among other things), what I originally employed as witty repartee became an impenetrable forcefield around my heart. To me, being "hard to get" was a virtue. So I would be mean, thinking I was funny. If them boys still liked me after that, then either they really liked me or they were really dumb. It was a weeding process.

I wasn't just mean. I was stupid, too. That and I had/have impressively low self-esteem. I couldn't believe that anybody would actually want to date me with my bad posture and my freckles and my squishy thighs. So in the rare instances a guy wanted to date me, I immediately assumed there was something wrong with him.

Other times, I got myself into quasi-dating relationships without really realizing it. And then I would be evasive, aloof, and yes, probably even dishonest (though not deliberately) to try to back out of them. I was terrified of relationships. I never wanted to be mistreated or have to stand up for myself or have a fight. So if I could just distance myself and confuse a boy into lack of interest, then that seemed like a better way to go. I was the worst. I never would have tried to date me.

I have a lot of regrets about the way I treated boys. But then again, there are guys out there who probably should have regrets about the way they treated me. We're idiots, all of us. And in trying to navigate romantic relationships with each other, we do serious damage — sometimes irreparable damage. It was done to me and I did it to others. And I feel like a jerk. You know what? We all should probably feel like jerks.

It's like Michele said in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, "I bet in high school, everybody made somebody's life hell." That's what we do when we're dating. We make people's lives hell. Each one of us leaves shattered hearts in our wake, and each one of us has a shattered heart that needs to be pieced back together.

Sometimes I wish I could have re-dos with some of the people I mistreated. No, all the time I wish that. But then would I have met and married my Rob? Who knows?

Either way, I owe you an apology, Anonymous. You and all the other dudes I was not cool to over the years because I was young and dumb and a mean girl. And, assuming you're a fella, there are probably a few girls waiting for an apology from you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

30 Things to Ask Your Spouse: Dork Edition

Recently, I started on the Pinterest. It's a dreadful, dirty habit, but I turn to it when I've had just enough Alexander Pope for one evening, thank you very much. I usually look at it on my phone, go straight to the explore app, and cruise the humor page until I start to realize...these people are not so funny. Do you know who is funny? Liz Lemon is funny. Let's see what she has to say...

The other day, though, I came across this "30 Things to Ask Your Spouse" pin. I clicked. That could be fun or interesting for us, I thought. Definitely more fun and interesting than the Scribblerians, amirite?

Seriously, this Satire class is killing me.

So, then I started reading the questions and guys—they were involved. List 20 random facts about myself? Five of my passions? Five greatest accomplishments? This would not be a good date night activity for the Whalens. Unless we could redefine the words "great" and "accomplishment." Or if we could replace "passions" with "potato chip flavors."

P.S. If you know the Whalens, you know that we talk so much that there is very little in the way of dream jobs, influences, and pet peeves that we don't already go over on at least a bi-weekly basis. It's a thing that happens when you don't have cable, or when your husband refuses to buy Netflix.

Then it hit me. You guys! I'm going to replace these 30 super hard, boring questions with a much shorter list of questions that I don't already know the answers to. Here goes:

30* Things to Ask your Spouse: Dork Edition

1. Name a food (or foods) that you can't eat anymore because one time you ate a bunch of them and it made you puke.

2. When was the last time you peed your pants just a little bit and why?

3. When was the last time you pooped your pants just a little bit and why?

4. (Going along with questions 3 and 4) When was the last time you had to throw away a pair of underwear and why?

5. If you could punch just one person, living or dead, square in the face—with no consequences—,who would it be?

6. When was the last time you got the giggles in an inappropriate setting like a meeting or a funeral? Were you reading a Liz Lemon tumblr at the time?

7. What do you think about when you have to keep a straight face but something really funny just happened?

8. Which of your siblings' girlfriends/boyfriends was your least favorite and why? Are they also the answer to number 5?

9. Describe an obstacle course you designed as a child. What sort of injury came to you, your friends, or your siblings as a result of this obstacle course?

10. When was the last time you faked sick? Puke, diarrhea, or other, and did you offer "proof"? If so, what did you make it out of?

11. Which fictional character would you be best friends with and why? And don't say Han Solo, because obviously.

12. What are your top three potato chip flavors?

13. Have you ever had an an anthropomorphic cartoon crush? How about just a cartoon crush? (Think Disney or the Thundercats.)

14. What's the longest you ever went without taking a shower? (Camping doesn't count.)

15. What's the grossest thing you've ever smelled. Did you smell it on purpose?

That's all I can come up with now. Obviously, this list is not complete. I welcome and encourage additional questions if you can think of any.

I'm forcing Rob to go on a date with me tonight. I'll let you know how these go over. I have no doubt they'll go over better than "What is your dream job?" Duh. No job. 

*Not actually 30. Who can go through 30 questions and answers without getting distract—hey look, a cricket in the house!

Monday, July 30, 2012

My husband is a fantastic liar.

My friends cancelled on me for lunch today. I was a little bummed, but not devastated. I've cancelled on them a million times. And I have so much satire to read, it's not even funny (get it?). Rob asked if I was OK with it. Sure, I replied. This way I don't have to put on real pants or go outside of the house. My motto is, "No pants? No problem!"

Then he said, Why don't we go to lunch?

Wha?! Lunch? Con migo? In Hollyweird? My husband never asks me to go on lunch dates. I mean, not since I was working at The Hollywood Reporter and we would keep it classy by meeting every day at the Del Taco on Highland and Santa Monica (which has, sadly, been replaced by a fancy gas station)—the exact midpoint between our two workplaces . Of course we can go to lunch! And at Kitchen 24, you say? I will even put on pants for this!

No, I did not think it was weird that he asked me to lunch with no occasion. Or that he suggested we go  at 12:30, a ridiculously early time for a Whalen to eat a midday meal. I just thought my husband wanted to buy a special lunch for his special lady.

When we walked into the restaurant, Rob gestured to a couple of hot blondes in a booth: Hey, don't you know those girls? And then my jaw fell off of my face. Sitting right there in the booth, in Hollywood, were two of my favorite friends from growing up who now live nowhere near me (Australia and Arizona to be exact). These gorgeous little liars in cahoots with my husband managed to keep their presence in LA a complete secret in order to surprise me. It was the best thing in my whole life.

If I had known this was going to happen, I would have styled my hair 
or made up my face or worn an "outfit" instead of "pajamas." 
But seriously, how pretty are my friends? They look like true All-
American girls sharing a shake with their weird, Eastern European
 exchange-student friend.

And Rob's not bad, either. ;)

We sat in a booth and chatted for three hours that might as well have been three minutes or three years. 
It truly is a wonderful thing to see old friends when I live so far away from my home and family. It reminds me of who I am.

My sneaky husband begged my other friends to cancel on me so that I could have a once in a lifetime surprise with my boon companions. And I had no idea.

What else is he hiding from me?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dog food: Raw and Uncooked.

Outside, on the porch, where the animal feeding happens, there's a big bin with a screw-on lid that is usually filled with several pounds of fancy, all-meat kibble. Every morning after our walk, we make Fritz sit in in front of the bin and wait while we scoop out 3/4 cup of this stuff, sprinkle it with ground flax, make him look us in the eye, and then say, "OK!", so he can get on with his breakfast frenzy.

Right now, that bin is empty and echo-y and a little sad. This is usually a sign that we need to hightail it to Blue Collar Dog and stop being so lazy. (When our pantry empties out, we can go to Taco Bell. But there's no Taco Bell for puppies...yet!) Don't worry guys. The kibble bin isn't empty because we're trying to starve our dogbaby. The kibble bin is empty because we're going all East-side on you: raw, semi-organic, and all mixed up.

I spent all evening in the kitchen, collecting carrots, beans, pineapple, eggs (with the shells), and leafy greens—everything in my pantry that wasn't on the no-no lists—and piling them into my poor blender that, unfortunately, is not a Vitamix. The smell was amazing! Like freshness and nature and vitality! Rob hated it. Also, it made a ginormous mess. (I found green sludge behind my earlobe and inside the silverware drawer.)

I'm telling you is this green for reals.

The truth of the matter is that our dog has a problem. A very stinky problem. The poor dummy can't express his anal glands on his own. I know, I know. You want to know more! We discovered this problem with our noses. Every 4-6 weeks, our dog smells like a decomposing skunkfish. The vets (two different dog doctors) have had no suggestions. So every six weeks, Rob sets an alert on his phone called "Anti-Skunkfish" to remind us to get poor Fritz's butt glands squeezed out. You're so jealous.

And we were going to just keep doing this at $14 a pop, until a couple weeks ago. We were walking Fritz around the neighborhood when we met the hottest, youngest, most tatted-up lady vet in Silver Lake (walking the dog is about as social as we get...). We asked her about Fritz's problem and she said: Guys. Raw food.

So there's one cup of kibble left. Tomorrow, Fritzstopher Frolumbus gets his first taste of raw turkey and veggie slop. I'm anticipating a future of fresh breath and healthy butts. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy Fritz-iversary!

One whole year with this mutt.

Seems like it was yesterday and a million years ago that we got this stinky dog from the pound and thought, we have made a grave mistake.

But we were wrong. We made a great mistake.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My first hater.

I've been writing this blog for a while now, and I've never, ever had a hater. Well, not one that I knew about. I just figured that most of my haters probably didn't even read my blog in the first place. Because why? Unless you want to relentlessly make fun of it and, oh my goodness, please do! This is all nonsense! All of it! Useless drivel! Self-referential and embarrassing and stupid and dumb.

But now that I have a hater ... I've arrived! Yes! Finally! Now that someone has anonymously called me out on my own blog, I've achieved miniscule Internet relevance. Wait. No I haven't. But it kind of felt like that for a minute.

But hater...why are you anonymous? If you "welcome" my honesty and "cherish" my perspective, why not have an honest conversation with me about my perspective? Why should you get to enjoy my vulnerability while hiding behind anonymity? And why, if I don't know who you are, should I feel compelled to answer any of your (kind of hurtful) questions?

Because the Internet, that's why.

So I'll do it. Because I wrote the post. I kept it deliberately ambiguous. I threw it out there. So here we go.

[I]s there any selfishness in your explained thought process?
Of course there is! This blog is a dumb blog because it's about me. It's a place for me to post my thoughts and my feelings. It's public because all my writing used to be public. People said, "why don't you write a blog?", so I did. And sometimes, the things that prompt me to write are, well, about me. So yes, I was thinking of myself. I know how my friends feel, and I know how the more outspoken church members feel, but for stuff like this, I'm my only real reference. Now I know how you feel. Thanks for sharing.

Don't you think that other people have part of themselves hidden a closet as well[?]
I mean, yeah. I don't think I said they didn't. But on the topic I was discussing (which I left deliberately ambiguous because this is my blog and I can), I was responding to a cultural atmosphere which is felt by many, many people. Everyone has shit buried in the backyard. And I would never dream of taking that away from them.

Maybe ... there is enough crap in their own lives, that watching "Breaking Bad" is just a little too close to home.
You're right. Some people do deal with drugs, and death, and cancer, and living in New Mexico. I don't. I have a charmed freaking life. Nothing to complain about here. But I only brought up "Breaking Bad" because it has swears and adult themes. Correct me if I'm wrong (and I know you will—winky eye smiley face), some Mormons would condemn me for watching a show like that.

[A]ren't the same people who claim they never can be accepted fully the first ones to sit in the back row, or text someone else or joke in the car ride home about how that person is so abrasive or full frontal?
Sure. I mean, I guess so. But Rob and I sit in middle of the chapel during Sacrament Meeting, then we go teach Gospel Doctrine (from the front of the room), and then, if I don't have to rush to work, I sit in the front row of Relief Society and participate. I figure, if I'm going to be there, I might as well pay attention. On the car ride home, we usually listen to Beirut.

You say that you want to be totally yourself and allow others to see you fully, but maybe a part of you holds on to the precious fact that you are too unique to give everyone all of you? 
Since this is a criticism (I presume), I'm inclined to agree with you about me, because I hate myself. But no, I actually don't think I'm unique. I'm a dime a dozen! I literally think there are at least a dozen other Mormon girls out there just like me. Like you said, aren't a bunch of us all just co-writers on the same old song?

And what does liberal even mean? 
 Well, I don't know what liberal means to you. I don't even really know what it means to other liberals or even non-liberals, for that matter. But when I describe myself as liberal it means this:
  • I support gay marriage.
  • I do vote democrat. (I know, right? Such a cliché.)
  • I question (and even disagree with) some Mormon church policies and traditions.
  • I claim attachment to the "Mormon" culture, since I was born, raised, and educated in it. Also, graduate students. (But everyone hates graduate students.)
Maybe when you stop focusing so much on your feelings of exclusion or polarization you might realize that there are more people out there than you think that are trying to figure out their own feelings on things.
You're right. I am self-absorbed. Maybe I should have a baby.
But I'm not necessarily delusional. If there are a whole bunch of us who feel this way, as you say, then couldn't our feelings be somewhat valid? Or are we all just making it up because we can't stop thinking about ourselves? If there are more people out there trying to figure out their feelings, then shouldn't we all be a little more sensitive to multiple perspectives? You know ... embiggen the tent, as it were?

We are all growing and changing at various rates and you never know where someone is at. 
I totally agree with that statement. Except for the fact that it ended with a preposition. ;)

I hope you find a way to marriage[sic] your two selves and progress with success and hopefully find the humanity that you seek.
Thanks. Me, too. I might find it, if I can locate the co-authors and co-producers of my tired old song. After all,  the Grammy nomination deadlines are coming up.

Oh, anonymous. I was hoping I could find some of that humanity with you. Instead, I will try to make myself a better person so that you can find it with me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

There's a war inside of me.

This line from a song by my favorite twin/lesbian indie duo rattles through my head most Sundays. It usually starts off sometime during Sacrament Meeting, the rattling. Then it gets louder while I'm teaching my Sunday School lesson. By the time Relief Society starts, it's so loud that I can barely sing along with the practice hymn. Something, usually a statement from a talk or a line from a prayer, reminds me that these people don't really know me ... and I feel like they wouldn't like me if they met me. I mean the real me. Not the me that curls my eyelashes and puts on an A-line skirt and tasteful clogs for Sunday worship. No. I'm talking about the me that swears. The me that sits for hours on my futon reading feminist criticism and eating candy in my undies. The me that watches Breaking Bad. I feel like that's the me they wouldn't like.

One me is not more real than the other. They are both as authentic as I know how to be. My religion is my heritage, my culture, my history. It's the only way I've ever lived. But in the interest of self-preservation, there's a lot of me that stays, for lack of a better phrase, in the closet. (Spoiler alert: this post is not about being gay. It's about being a liberal, among other things.)

There are times when I chastise myself for keeping so much of me in this closet. If these people love me, I tell myself, then they will love me in spite (or perhaps because) of these other parts of me. And some of them do. (I'm thinking of you, Lisa, who put your hand on my shoulder today and shot me such a welcome dose of love and respect, even if I am a Democrat—winky eye smiley face. Or you, Angela. I'm pretty sure you would love me even if I showed you my communist party membership card, which I swear I do not have.) But a lot of them don't, or wouldn't if they knew. I've read enough of their blogs and Facebook posts to know that their tent is not big enough to include the likes of me: the bleeding hearts, the skeptics (but not necessarily cynics), the respectful questioners. The searchers and ponderers. The pray-ers with (maybe) different answers.

Here's what I want: I want to feel just as comfortable with my church friends as I do with my grad school friends. I want to know that, like my grad school friends, my church friends won't think I'm dangerous or misled after hearing what I have to say. Or if they do think I'm dangerous or misled, they won't hold it against me.

I want to come out to my church friends. I don't want to have to pretend to agree with their solutions or support their same ideas. I want to tell them my honest feelings and share my honest struggles. Maybe they're having the same ones. Maybe we can help each other. Maybe we can make things better.

So I'm not coming out of the closet yet. But I'm opening the door. Maybe I'll burst all the way through when it quiets down out there. Maybe I'll come all the way out when there is more room in the tent.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dogs named Gret(t)a.

I'm going to give my parents the benefit of the doubt and assume that they didn't intentionally give me a dog name.

Buuuuut they did.

I know this because on our walk the other morning, I heard a lady yelling my name. I thought it was one of my buddies, out and about with their very own dogbaby, just saying hi to me. But this yelling was not the friendly, get-your-friend's-attention kind of yell. It was much more of a would-you-just-stop-doing-that-bad-thing-you're-doing kind of yell. I was being good, so I knew it wasn't meant for me. It was meant for a dog—named Gret(t)a.

That makes five dogs named Gretta that I've had the pleasure to meet and/or hear about. And the third time I thought I was being busted by a stranger who was just yelling at his or her ill-behaved (though well-named) pooch.

I feel pretty good about it. I've joined the ranks of other ladies with disyllabic depression-era names that have become popular among pet owners: the Hazels, Rubies, Daisies, and Betties. It's not bad company.

Also, there's this precious book that I found while I was working at YOLK last Tuesday. It's about a couple of doxies who fall in love. One is super long and one has a super cool name.

Don't worry. You're not a bad person. The innuendo is there and it is hilarious. Feel free to apply it wherever you feel it fits.

And for good measure, here's one of my dog with a human name.


You're welcome.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Weekend Post

For a month and a half, I've been looking toward to this weekend with dread. In the world of the CSU-sters like myself, it's known as week nine of the ten week quarter (or as I like to call it, second-to-worst week). It's all grading and writing and worrying and student conferences and grading before the final week of class. And it can be traumatic, my friends. I tried to make it easier on myself by having some student conferences last Thursday and Friday. Have you ever had student conferences? They're that magical moment in the quarter when your students actually start to give a crap. Also, it's that time when it's just a little too late for them to start caring. You have to say things like, "well, I think the words you've made up here might not fly for your final draft" or "I hate to say it, but if you want to pass college English, these subjects and verbs are going to have to agree."

So, there was that. But here's the wondrous thing: this weekend was truly delightful. I know. I'm as surprised as you are. There was puppy snuggling:

And there was a Saturday off (a Saturday off?!) from the job which freed up some laundry time:

Did you know you can take your dog to Silver Lake Suds? You can! And you can take your laptop for paper-grading purposes, too. 

Additionally, there was date night. Too much Mexican food (¡Ay! Lo siento, estómago mío...) followed by an unproductive trip to the ArcLight where we did not end up seeing Moonrise Kingdom on account of we couldn't get two seats next to each other. My apologies, misters Murray and Anderson.

Instead we went across the street to Amoeba where we came home with a handful of bargain dvds. (What is the blue ray?)

I had every intention of enjoying Steve McQueen and rocky road. Instead, I slumbered in the arms of my dog. And now we've come full circle.

Monday, May 21, 2012

When it feels like you are going to die...

Today's post is about anxiety.

The facespace informed me that it's mental health awareness week. I don't usually like to think of myself as a victim of stuff since my life is relatively awesome. This is not a brag, I swear. Here's the thing: I was born in America, my parents paid for my college education, and the worst physical illnesses I've ever had were cured with a pill or shot. My dog and husband adore me and want to be all up in my space, even when I wear sweats all day or forget to brush my teeth until dinnertime. Some of my biggest life disappointments have included being laid off or getting denied to certain academic programs. Sure, there are some dark skeletons in my life whose descriptions aren't necessarily blog appropriate, but all this good stuff has helped to eclipse the darkness in a major way. That's why I feel like a total jerk for the times when I become so panicked, so anxious and completely agitated, that I feel like my heart is going to stop beating, or even that I might be better off if it did.

I think a lot of people say they feel like they are going to have a panic attack. They get really nervous about something or they start to worry and then they say, "Omg, you guys, I'm totally about to have a panic attack right now!" This may be true. They might be experiencing the same type of panic I get from time to time. But I don't tell people when I'm about to have a panic attack because I'm usually too busy trying not to have one. I have to use the techniques I've learned to keep myself from taking the Wacky Train to Crazy Town. I have to control my breath so I don't start breathing so quickly and shallowly that I pass out. I have to remind myself that just because I can hear my heartbeat in my ears doesn't mean that it's going to burst out of my body and shoot across the room. I have to convince myself that just because my chest feels like it's collapsing in on itself does not mean I'm having a heart attack. I have to close my eyes to prevent others from seeing the tears that I'm trying to keep safely behind my eyelids. And then I have to feel like an idiot because the whole reason this nonsense started is that I couldn't find my phone right away because I accidentally put it in the refrigerator.

I had two panic attacks over the weekend. That's more than usual on account of I've been especially stressed lately. The triggers were so stupid. But when you panic, you don't always have control over what sends your world off the rails. The first happened when Rob dropped me off in front of Target so I could make a return. (I'd bought pants on a whim and they were too small. That's what happens when you buy Target pants without trying them on.) I'd left my phone in the car, and I'd expected that I would run in, do the business, and then run back out and Rob would be there. When I went back out, he wasn't there. He wasn't there for a while. It felt longer than it actually was, of course. And I don't know what I thought the worst case scenario was. It was a Target parking lot, for hell's sake. How many different places could he have gone? But I panicked. My breathing sped up and so did my heartbeat. My chest started to feel tight and so did my throat. I had to take myself out of the moment. I had to talk to myself in my head: "Listen, Gretta. He didn't leave you. He'll drive back around and you'll get back in the car and you'll head to Pasadena and eat gourmet hotdogs. This is not an emergency. This is not a disaster." After a few deep breaths, I went back into the store. I asked them if I could use their phone (they looked at me like I was crazy...who needs to use someone else's phone these days?) and I called Rob. Luckily, he picked up. He'd been waiting in a parking spot that I couldn't see, and he couldn't see me waiting in front of the store. I hung up and by the time I got outside, I could see him. Crisis averted. Panic assuaged.

The second attack happened when I couldn't get the parking meter machine to work. After some cognitive dissonance exercises, I tried another machine and it worked just fine. Second crisis averted.

In my brain, I know the situations that cause my anxiety are not even close to as harrowing as they sometimes feel. But my body can't always tell. The panic attacks are fairly rare. But the anxiety is constant. Even though my life is truly wonderful, I live almost every day with the low grade fear that the world will start unraveling because of something I did. I can't tell exactly when this started or why, but I remember having anxiety attacks when I was a kindergartner, and I think it was because my socks weren't the same height.

Am I ashamed of this panic problem? Honestly? Well, yeah...a little. I'm ashamed because I don't want people to think I'm not grateful for the good things in my life. I'm ashamed because the triggers are so trivial and because the symptoms of an attack are sometimes hard to hide from my friends and family and perfect strangers. But I shouldn't be ashamed. For whatever reason, my brain and my body shift in to hyper-drive at weird times. And while I've done nothing to deserve the responsibility of the world, I've always felt that its weight rests squarely on my shoulders. But I'm learning to deal with it. And I shouldn't be ashamed of it. I should just adapt.

I'm working on it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fritz. You're an idiot.

My dog is ... neurotic? He got in a fight with his back foot the other day. Rob was quick and clever enough to catch it on iPhone.

Before I let you watch, I want to offer explanations. I didn't know my fat arm was in the shot. And I didn't know my "undershirt" was spilling out of my sleeve. Furthermore, we don't live in a one-room Eastern block immigrant shanty from the early 1900s. We just put the futon down so my mom could sleep on it while she was here. And then we were too lazy to put it back up. My house is actually adorable in spite of its microscopic size.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Poetry is Laime.

Honesty time! I hate poetry. I haven't read Jane Eyre, I hate poetry, and I'd almost rather be a victim in a Saw movie than grade essays. (I said almost). Also, I teach college English. Have no fear, America! Your young adults are in good hands—good hands that tremble with anxiety and rage.

But I don't hate all poetry. In fact, if the poetry is off-color, sarcastic, or about farts, I really like it. When it's all those things and written on a typewriter, I LOVE it.

Since I started my grad program in literature I've learned two things: 1) my language skills are neither marketable nor valuable, and 2) literature takes many forms. One of my favorite new/old genres is poetry. I've tried my hand at a typewriter poem or two, but I'm no good. I'm novice mode. Elizabeth Laime is beast mode.

I found out about Elizabeth when she played a crucial role in getting us our Fritz. She works with The Mutt Scouts. They save orphaned dog babies in the Silver Lake/Echo Park/Downtown Los Angeles area. On our walk the other morning, we caught her wrestling two little terrier/chihuahua puppies in her pjs. She'd been up with them all night because she is an angel from heaven.

Read her hilarious, almost daily (and sometimes salty) poetry on her Poetry is Life tumblr or follow her on the (@elabyl). 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Give A's for Effort!

Not really. I don't think I'm allowed to give A's for effort. I don't even know that I would if I could. I haven't really developed my pedagogical theory. What I'm trying to say is I have no idea what I'm doing teaching-wise. Just shooting from the hip. Yee-haw, if you will. You're welcome, college freshman of America!

Our curriculum demands that we give reading comprehension quizzes. They're mostly no-brainers. At least, I think they are. But as a panicky student myself, I get how and why students panic in the face of assessment. Sometimes they forget what they read. Sometimes they get confused and mix things up. Sometimes they have no idea what the answer is and they try to fill in the blank with the written equivalent of someone absent-mindedly brushing their hand over their mouth while mumbling or trailing off at the end of a sentence.

I wish I could have given her a point for getting the first letters ... whiiiiiiich I listed in the question.

Honesty time! I mostly don't like teaching. Every class feels like an improv performance that I just suck at. Also, I have impressively low self-esteem, so I still don't get why they let me pretend to tell 19-year-olds how to do anything. But you know what I do like? Students. Especially students who fill in the blanks. 

Even when they do it hilariously wrong.

*Extra Credit for anyone who can get it right!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So it goes.

The Universe has been a real dick to my friends lately. It needs to back off.

My brother, who knows this about the Universe, sent me an email yesterday that I want you to see. But it requires some background. In order to appreciate this email, you might need to know that my brother and I were one year apart in high school and we shared a lot of things: a bathroom, friends, mountains of books.... In 1999-2000 we shared a Kurt Vonnegut phase. We were trying really, really hard to be intellectuals at the time, which was difficult because we were also very dumb. I remember that on our choir trip, we both stuffed our satchels full of books so we could read in the lines at Disneyland instead of talk to our friends like normal freaking teenagers. Or maybe that was just me.

Anyway, he sent me this quote from an A.V. Club article by Scott Gordon, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Tasha Robinson, and Kyle Ryan:

"So it goes.""[T]he repeated refrain from Vonnegut's classic Slaughterhouse-Five isn't notable for its unique wording so much as for how much emotion—and dismissal of emotion—it packs into three simple, world-weary words that simultaneously accept and dismiss everything. There's a reason this quote graced practically every elegy written for Vonnegut.... It neatly encompasses a whole way of life. More crudely put: 'Shit happens, and it's awful, but it's also okay. We deal with it because we have to.'"

And because he's Cliff, he added this:

Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Right now, my dear high school friend Brittany has to deal with being paralyzed because she got into a mountain biking accident the day before Easter. She has two little kids and a husband and they are scrambling to make their whole lives wheelchair-accessible. If you can, please donate to her cause.

So it goes.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Looking forward to my refill.

I am a born skeptic. I've told this story before here, but I'll tell it again because it will help me get where I'm going. I don't actually remember this happening, but my parents tell me that at a very young age, I heard a rumor that Santa Claus, who I dearly, dearly loved and appreciated, was not an actual, living person.  When I confronted them, my parents (being the new-agey hippies that they were) told me the truth. I was mortified, I imagine. Probably damn near inconsolable. But the telling part is this: I started asking about my other invisible, gift-depositing friends. What about the Tooth Fairy?, I asked. The Easter Bunny? The Little New Year? (Which I'm pretty sure is just another generous imp my mom made up anyway. I could probably google that and find out for sure, but these days, who has the time?) My parents—bless their hearts—told me the truth.

And then I asked, So, what about Jesus?

It has never been easy for me to believe things. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I'm not an optimist, even though I really, really have always wanted to be one. But I'm just not. I describe myself as a "glass half empty type of gal". I've just never been sure that everything is going to turn out OK.  And the older I get, the more I realize that ...  I'm right.

A friend of ours died last week. A really cool lady. She was young. She had two little babies and a husband freshly barred in the state of California. She got throat cancer at a freaky young age for no reason. And despite all of the traditional and experimental treatments, the fasts, and the prayers, she still died. And it's not OK.

It's not OK because all this woman's friends and her young little family are going to feel the pain of this loss as long as they live. It probably won't maintain it's intensity and they will definitely be able to find joy and happiness in the people and things that are still around. But there's no getting around the fact that losing this lady from the planet is nothing short of a tragedy. It just sucks.

While Rob and I were discussing this and just how awful the world can be, I reiterated the fact that I'm a pessimist and this is why. He agreed with my self-diagnosis, but he amended it a bit:

"You are a glass half-empty type of gal," he said. "But you're always looking forward to the waiter coming around and filling your glass back up."

I belong to a culture of knowers. Where I come from, people know the things they know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I do not think I'm a knower. I wish I could be, but it's just not reasonable to expect that from my brain. I'm too prone to making mistakes. For example, today I went to work, really knowing that I was on the schedule. And here I am now, blogging in the middle of my shift. You do the math. So, no, I'm not a knower. But I sure am a hoper. And a lot of the time, the things I hope for actually turn out to be right.

So, I hope—I believe—that I'll be able to see Carla again. I hope I'll be able to see her, with all her hair and fingernails, reunited with her husband and babies. I hope I'll be able to tell her I'm sorry I wasn't a better friend, and I'm sorry I left her baby shower early that one time because I had to go work. I was on the schedule that day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I don't know how to say this...

It's horrible. It's embarrassing. But I can't keep it to myself any longer. I need help. The thing is...


I think my dog is a racist.

Those of you who have met my dog know that there is almost nobody that Fritz doesn't love. I mean love. He loves people so hard that he thinks the only way he can express his feelings for them is by sitting on top of their collarbones and tasting the inside of their mouths. He gets so excited to see perfect strangers that his butt swings back and forth so hard, I'm afraid he might dislocate a hip. He is friendly to a fault. He has almost no concept of stranger danger. If we ever lose him, I'll just assume he went home from the dog park with, like, anyone else. Because he would.

Unless that person is of one particular race.

It's solicitor season, I guess. Recently, we've had a few young people come to the door and try to sell us magazine subscriptions. Rob mentioned to me that a couple of girls who came earlier this week made the mistake of ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door—two things that cause Fritz to go temporarily insane. In these instances, it's easy to chalk his bad behavior up to his surprise. He was awakened from a nap! Who wouldn't go totally street-rat crazy if they were roused from a dead sleep by a rattling storm door, right?

Today, there was no door-rattling or bell-ringing to blame it on. My dog just didn't care for the man who was on the other side of the door. Usually my dog just wants french kiss the person on the other side of the door, but today, it seemed like Fritz wanted to eat this man's face.

"If you're dog isn't barking, then he's not doing his job," said the very kind, very understanding solicitor while I grabbed the scruff of Fritz's neck and tried to get him to lie down and stop making hell-hound sounds.

I messaged Rob right away. "I'm worried Fritz is racist," I told him.

He wrote back: "hahaha."

But seriously, what if my dog is an A-hole? Slate wrote an interesting article on how I'm not crazy and how dog racism can be a real thing. But I still don't know what to do to make him stop barking like Cujo at any member of a particular ethnic subset. It's mortifying! And it's not a good look for him.

One commenter pointed out that maybe my dog just has a problem with solicitors. He definitely does, but his reaction to the other (white) solicitor who came that day seemed much less mentally deranged. And months ago, on a walk, he kept giving this poor man "warning barks" that did not seem like equal opportunity warning barks.

What to do?

Friday, March 2, 2012

1 Part Greg Laswell, 1 Part Sara Bareilles, and Just a Pinch of Magic.

Wow. Two posts in one day? Someone must have a paper to write....

Yes, I'm putting off coming up with an answer to why Theron Ware fails as an intellectual and an aesthete. And Yes, I'm still in my sweats and I haven't brushed my teeth yet today. But my friend Greg Laswell (OK, my Facebook friend) sent me a link to this beautiful song he made with Sara Bareilles. It's called Come Back Down and it's the first single from his album Landline which is due out next month. Treat your earballs to this:

Don't you love that? Doesn't it make you want to get up in your house and do the kind of twirly dancing you only do when nobody but your dog can see you? Doesn't it make you want to sing way louder than you're used to singing so your voice cracks? Here's a secret: that's what all of Greg Laswell's music does to me. I am his biggest and best fan. Biggest And Best! I feel like if he knew Rob and me in real life, we'd probably hang out a lot. Like at the Bright Spot, eating eggs florentine and talking tunes. We could swap stories about our scrappy terriers and talk about our favorite ambient percussion trends. Short of having all food taste like cupcakes, few things would make me happier than that. I wonder if he needs a drummer...or a penny-whistlist....

We have been following his every move...wait, no... his music for several years now, but I'm worried that not enough people are doing the same. Now you have no excuse.

You can snag a free download of the song on his website here.

In My Next Life: Illustrator Edition

I'm starting a new series here on this nonsense blog. It's going to be a thing where I say what sorts of stuff I would have and do and be if I were some other person in some other place at some other time. I have thought to myself "I wish I did that" so often that I figured I should make a thing of it on something I actually do do ... meaning this blog, not doo doo. (Wackity schmakity and so on).

Today's edition is all about illustrators. It was inspired by a couple of baby books that have come into Yolk over the past couple of weeks. Some clever book-nerds out there (Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver) made a Jane Eyre counting book with some of the most enchanting images that I've ever seen in connection with a Brontë. Check this out...

They also do Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, and a Shakespeare ABC book called Y is for Yorick. You can see the covers here. And you can see some of Alison Oliver's other work here. My child-bearing friends should not be surprised if they receive these as shower gifts from me.

Now, as a grad student of the literary persuasion, I'm sort of ashamed to admit that I've never actually read Jane Eyre (she said as she cringed, took cover under a pillow, and waited for the blows to rain down on her head like so many fire darts). But I've heard people talk about it so many times that I feel like I could write a screenplay. The same goes for Moby Dick and the last half of Anna Karenina. What? Lots of English teachers haven't read really important classic novels.

All of this leads me to my conclusion that in my next life, I will continue not reading many classic novels. Instead, I will do fun, colorful, graphic illustrations of classic novels to help babies get the gist of them. Because in the end, isn't the gist of Jane Eyre good enough?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Procrastination Station

Every time I have to finish a book that seems so long that a speed-reading super hero couldn't finish it by Christmas, I get a bug up my butt about this blog. So I wasted two hours futzing around with it today. Now I'm mad at myself because I still have roughly a million pages to read in The Octopus, which is actually an awesome book you should read, and I still haven't taken a shower. My dog and I have just been snuggling on the couch, breathing on each other, and stewing in one another's stinks. I know how aroused you must be. Try not to make love to your computer screen.

Then I think about this blog. I'm bad at it. My last post was three weeks ago. I post some nonsense, and then I pat myself on the back, and then I wait for my check for $0 from the Internet, and then I completely forget I even have a blog. Plus, during my two-hour life-wasting session today, I discovered that there are really only two schools of lifestyle bloggers: the super-stylish/so-hip-it-hurts/graphic-designer-artist-photographer/beautiful-person kind that makes me feel bad about myself, and the kind where you give everyone in your family a code name and post pictures of all your meals, outfits, crafts, and naked babies. Not that either of these types are bad, just that neither of these types are me.

Here's the truth. Are you ready? OK. Me, too. My life is not interesting enough for you to want to read about it. So what are you still doing here, mom? 

I don't have any babies to take pictures of. But I do have a picture of this cookie...

which I had to buy last Tuesday when I was working at Yolk so that I could go spy on Joseph Gordon-Levitt at LAMILL. I didn't want to look like a total psycho, so couldn't walk out of there empty-handed.

It was delicious. But perhaps (and Rob and I agree on this) not as delicious as Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Give Brandon the Finger!

When I was in high school, my best friend was a dude. He was a cool dude with rad hair and and sweet skate shoes and, most awesomely, he played in rock bands. After high school, he became this insanely magnificent classical guitarist (in addition to being in this sweet band) and I couldn't be more proud if he had learned to conjure bacon strips out of thin air.

Problem is, he sliced his right index finger off in a tragic table saw accident. I know. It's dreadful. It makes me scrunch my face and clench my thighs when I think about it. But since he's such a stud, he's been playing the guitar this whole time anyway. And now he's got this cool music career and this beautiful wife and all he needs is a prosthetic finger so he can get back to playing all the crazy, fingerpicking tunes he played before.

And you can help!

Go this blog, head over to the donate page, and send Brandon some ducats to buy his $3000 "carbon-fiber finger fragment". Please. It would be so very decent of you. If you're anywhere near Salt Lake City, you might could even go to the Give Brandon the Finger Benefit Concert (more info on that here).

Thanks for always helping my friends. You guys are the best.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

¿Como se dice "gluten-free" en Español?

Picture this:

Me, doing my teacherly duties and discussing current food trends with my students: gluten-free diets, veganism, freeganism, foraging, local food movements, and the like. It takes me a minute, but I realize that they are just staring at me, glassy-eyed.

" guys do know about the these food trends, right?" I ask.


"Where do you all shop? Whole Foods? No way. Nobody shops there. Too expensive. Trader Joe's? Ralph's? Vons?"


Then one girl says, with excessive matter-of-factness, "We shop at Mexican stores". And they all laugh.

Duh. I have never felt so white.

"Wow. You guys. I feel so white," I say and they laugh.

"I feel so Mexican" says the same clever girl.

It kills.

Fade out.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jack and White: Cute Overload

My journalism career was a flash in the pan that I usually view with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was happy to see it go (Hollywood journalism did not grab my writerly ta-tas, if you will). But on the other hand, I sometimes miss being Gretta Parkinson, intrepid girl reporter to the beautiful people. Just kidding. What? Who said that? Did it just get hot in here?

The most fun I did get to have back in my scrivener days was while writing features for Eliza Magazine (super cool project, IMhumbleO) which is helmed by the painfully stylish Summer Bellesa. One of these features was a cover story on Brooke White. Perhaps you've heard of her? She's only, like, the most precious, bespectacled, blondie in the American Idol-alum Sea of Great Talent. And can I just say to you, she is as lovely and pleasant and eye-squintingly shiny as a person could possibly be. Truly! A real treat.

Not that she's had a lot of time these days, what with her music and and entertainment career (Girls With Glasses, anyone?), but this week, she's releasing the EP for her new project Jack and White. Check out their new video for Night After Night:

I'm not going to lie...I'm a little bit of music snob. But let me tell you what I hear: a super sing-able hook and two ultra-blendable voices. I love the way Jack and Brooke sound together—almost like the harmonies are coming out of the same sqwak-box! And I'm pretty in to the indie pop/male-female duo sound myself (what can I say? Maybe it's because it matches my own pipe-like dreams...). To me, these kids are a bit reminiscent of Pomplamoose or the Weepies, but with their very own raw, Jack and White-ish edge.

Check out their Youtube page yourself and give them a listen. Then let me know what you think in the comments. I mean, if you want. It is a free country, after all. Alls I'm saying is, you might just love it so hard that your cheeks get sore from all the grinning.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Particles of Articles

I don't remember much from high school. Not because I've ever done anything even remotely interesting or drug related. I haven't. The closest I've gotten is watching Breaking Bad. And if real guilt is anything like the vicarious guilt I feel after watching that show, I'm thinking illicit substances probably aren't for me. I don't remember anything from high school because I'm a space cadet with a head full of movie quotes. But I do remember long phone conversations with my friend Brandon. They were primarily nonsense-based, but sometimes I would say a thing—a very silly thing, to be sure—and Brandon would tell me he was writing it down. Was he? Only he and the chickens know for sure. But I've always been curious...what were those pearls of teenage wisdom? And how mortified would I be if I saw them today?

It's not often that I say something I think anyone needs to remember. In fact, most of the time I hope people just hear a muted trumpet sound when my mouth diarrhea starts acting up (which, for the record, is all the damn time). Mine was a chatty house growing up, and it instilled in me the fallacious belief that the things I think should be turned into audible words. The result, inevitably, is ridiculousness and sheepishness, as you well may know if you have spent any time with me at all.

But every now and again I say something that pleases me. Mostly because it's tricky to articulate our thoughts and/or beliefs in a perfectly true and understandable way, isn't it? Aren't we mostly wishy-washy about a lot of things? Maybe you aren't, but I certainly find myself fumbling and mumbling whenever I try to say whatever it is that I really think about something at a certain moment. So I've started writing some of these things down. And by writing, I mean violently striking them out via typewritermachine because what else am I going to do with my incredible typewritermachine?

This is just a start. I mean, I hope. It's possible likely that I'll never have another worthwhile thought again. It's also possible likely that I'll think something miraculous and then promptly forget it. But thinking and remembering useful and original things is a good goal for me, so I'm going to stick with it. At least until I forget.

What are your brilliant thought-nuggets?