Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let it slide . . .

I haven't posted forever, and it's not because I haven't written anything. I've written four or five things, I just haven't finished them. Heck even the ones I have finished I haven't posted.

I don't know why.

I think it's because I'm busy. And sad. But mostly busy. And sad.

I can't talk about the things that make me sad though because if I did then some people would feel bad and other people would feel happy.

Do you ever get that feeling? Huh? That there are a few people who are secretly happy when you're sad? And secretly sad when you're happy? Ain't it the darndest feeling? Maybe that's why so many people pretend to be happy. Maybe they don't want to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing they're sad.

Adam Lambert was right. It's a mad world. A mad mad world. It's a sad world too.

A sad sad world.

Why does the world have to be so sad? I don't know what to do about all the sadness so sometimes I just do nothing. Besides curl up on the couch and watch Cake Boss. I don't even like Cake Boss, that's how mad the world of sadness is.

Same goes for photographic evidence. When I take my camera anywhere I feel this sense of responsibility to capture all the beauty and wonder around me. Or all the magical expressions on people's faces that you notice when you have a camera in your hand. But it's funny how when you focus on capturing a little bit of the magic, you begin to notice how much of it you're missing, and it pert near drives you batty.

You get me?

For every great shot I get of my kids playing sports, I see a hundred other great shots that I've missed, you know.

When I leave my camera at home I can just enjoy the greatness. Either that or ignore it.

But for some reason it's harder to enjoy the sadness. Or ignore it. And once sadness has your full attention you notice how much sadness you're missing. Sadness everywhere is just slipping through your fingers like water through a net, and all you can do is let is slide.

Like yesterday my daughter came home from school and told me that one of her friends was having a lump removed from her neck.

"It's probably nothing," I said because I could tell she was worried. And also because I meant it. I knew the mom, after all. Those things are usually nothing if I know the mom. But five minutes later my daughter got a text and it turns out her friend has cancer.

How is that possible? She's a cheerleader. Cheerleaders don't get cancer in five minutes. Especially if I know the mom.

She's not the only person I know who has cancer right now either. That's what kills me. It's like take that one sadness and multiply it by a billion. Then add all the other sadnesses of the people you know, that don't even start with C, and round it off. Then square root it, to the tenth power, and solve for X and Y and Z. That's a pretty complicated equation. And that's just the people you know.

Then take me, who hasn't got a clue about math. I can't solve nothin'.

Fer reals, my GRE scores proved I couldn't even get into Harvard Elementary School.

But if anyone ever needs someone to curl up on the coach and watch Cake Boss . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beautiful Losers and Ugly Winners

I remember in college I wrote a poem about beauty. It won 1st place in a campus poetry contest and was published in the college literary magazine.

I remember the difficult task of reading it aloud in front of my peers, made even more difficult by the fact that each line was written in a new font, with it's own particular voice and slant.

What I don't remember is the title of that stupid poem. What did I call it, for goodness sake!? I have no idea. All that comes to mind is the first line of the poem, which was one of the deepest, most original questions I'd penned to paper to that point in my life:

Why couldn't the beast just stay a beast?

That was my thought. Belle falls in love with him as a beast, not as a handsome prince charming so why bother with the whole magical transformation for the sake of a happy ending? I mean, he's gonna get all big and hairy and cranky eventually anyway.

Am I right, or am I right?

Now that I've had four children and 17 years of exposure to the Disney channel I understand that it is simply a beautiful metaphor for the transformative power of love. It is inner beauty symbolized as outer beauty. It is the ultimate reward for sacrificing yourself for another.

Yada, yada, yada.

Blah, blah, blah.

But fer reals, what's so bad about being hideously ugly, anyway? Or freakishly freaky? Or even run-of-the-mill ordinary? That's what I always say.

And now I understand why I always say it. See a few nights ago I found out who I am and where I came from.

My mom.

I found this out when my sister and I took my mom and our girls to see our adorable niece in her high school production of Beauty and the Beast. It was amazing, and wouldn't you know it, my mom fell in love with the beast. She fell so hard that her heart literally broke in two when he changed into a stinkin' hot calendar model. It just wasn't the happy ending she was looking for, I guess. But then she digs vampires and the artist formerly known as Prince.

But I dig Adrien Brody, so who's counting.

Anyway, it's what's inside that counts. That's what my MIL always says to her two shortest children, and I believe it. I would phrase it differently if I were cross stitching it on sweat shirts for my two shortest children, but whatevah.

I might say something like: It's what comes out that counts!

What good are beautiful insides if they never come out? You have do DO SOMETHING beautiful to be beautiful. That's alls I'm saying. Like apologize or say thank you or smile with your eyes or give someone a hug or a compliment or a chocolate truffle.

Or make something authentic. Even authentic emotion is beautiful, especially if it's expressed as art.

I'm getting a little side tracked, but have you guys heard of the beautiful losers? That group of D.I.Y artists who are a bit on the visually disobedient side? Meaning they don't bow to societal art norms. There's a documentary about them on Youtube that you might love if, like me, you want to be a beautiful loser when you grow up. Truthfully, I'd settle for being a semi-attractive loser.

I came across the documentary on T.V. by accident one day, and I few things were said that made me realize I had found my clan.

To go from being just a regular freak to being a cool freak. It's kinda nice. We were pretty stupid. And great. Awesomely dumb. It was full of people who were speaking a language where you didn't have to be smart to understand. All you had to do was have a heart and that was enough. I think nerds, or the dispossessed, do sort of inherit the creative earth. If you're not dispossessed, why make art? If you're not feeling pretty rejected and all that stuff you'll probably be a little more content and not have this need to save your life making something. If you really feel something, if there is something inside you, it's important, almost a duty, to tell your story in a different way.

Different way . . . diFFerent wAy . . . diffeRent waY . . .

But I digress. I was talking about the beast, who isn't a beautiful loser at all, but more of an ugly winner. Who then turns into a beautiful winner.

Hmm m m m m . . . I'm not connecting the dots very well, am I? I guess I'll just let you connect them for me then.

So the ending to this post is a little bit anti-climatic because after the show I went to a lot of trouble to arrange a meeting between the beast and my mom. For photographic evidence purposes. But the beast had this kind soul and these piercing eyes and I got nervous, and when I get nervous with a camera in my hand dumb things happen. Like the time I saw Obama at Turtle Bay and I accidentally put the camera on self timer. I just kept pushing the button over and over, but the shot didn't go off until Obama had stepped out of my viewfinder, leaving only the bathroom door which he had exited in view. It was a lovely shot of a presidential bathroom, but still!

So when I tried to shoot my mom with the beast I didn't realize I had the camera on video mode so I have no photographic evidence to tie this post together.

I do however have a photo with my adorable niece, Dani, who played every part in the play but the kitchen sink. (She would have made a lovely kitchen sink too, btw.)

Good job, Dani!

I also nabbed one more photo with my daughter's favorite character, Lumiere, who, besides Dani, stole the show!

Ain't it just like light to steal the show from beauty.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

P.S. Here is the video of my mom with the beast, but there is an error so don't get excited because you won't be able to watch it.

Trust me, my mom is positively glowing. With light and beauty.

Wow! I stand corrected!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Feel free to judge me now

Remember that time I came home from church to find someone was sleeping in my bed?

And she had goldie locks?

Twas a What 'chu talkin' bout Phyllis moment of which I have successfully recreated, with photographic evidence, for your viewing pleasure.

And mine.

he he he he he he he he he he he he he

Monday, November 14, 2011

Improvement and Destruction: Take Care

I told a fib in my last post. I did know that Monterey was in California when I went there last week. I'm a California girl, after all. Least I would've been had my parents not fled to Utah when I was a baby. They needed some space from three people who were too dependent on my dad (and vice versa--no pun intended): 1. his ex girlfriend with the long blond ponytail, 2. his mother, and 3. his drug dealer. Or should I say his mood alteration manager?

If it hadn't been for those three people I would have been born and raised in Long Beach instead of born and almost raised in Long Beach.

As it turned out there were plenty of blond ponytails and mood alteration managers in Utah too. And my dad's mother knew how to dial a phone.

Am I making my dad sound like a two-timing mama's boy with a nasty mood alteration habit? I don't mean to, really, it's just that some people look worse on paper than they do in real life. In real life he looked like the kindest and gentlest soul you'll ever meet, with a really big heart, and a few really small issues.

Mother/other/mood issues.

But he had his reasons. Plus it was the sixties! Drugs in the sixties were like cigarettes in the fifties.

But anyway, if I wasn't born and almost raised in Long Beach, I would like to have been born and almost raised in Monterey. I kinda loved it there. I've decided that in my next life I want to be a Mexicalian. I really dig coastal cities of the Spanish kind.

And I really dig Steinbeck too. I even bought a Steinbeck book at Fisherman's wharf to read on the plane. Travels with Charlie. It's a book of observations Steinbeck makes about Americans in 1960 after he packs up a trailer and his poodle and, at 58 years old, travels incognito across the good ole' U.S.A. GREAT BOOK! He's very observant--my favorite observation being when he arrives in Seattle, a place he spent a lot of time in as a child, and says "Why is it that progress looks so much like destruction."

How's that for profound!?

It made me think deeply. About improvement. Improvement also looks a lot like destruction in a way, for you really cannot improve something without destroying something else. Or at least losing something else.

Now don't try to argue with me and say that improvement is always good because it does have its drawbacks. Take for instance my early years of marriage. I was hell-bent on improving my figure. And I did. I looked as good as I get given my physical limitations. But while I was super hot, I was also super itchy. With a B.

It takes a lot of time and energy to be super hot. My hub noticed that I had become consumed with myself and lost my pleasant personality. He also noticed that I had become a rude driver and said he'd rather take me soft around the edges in matters of both body and soul. And also in matters of the road.

Bottom line: Improvement takes a lot of focus and it makes some people itchy. That's alls I'm sayin, Phyllis.

So I'm home now and I left Monterey a few hours earlier than my hub--6:20 a.m. if you want to know the ugly truth--not because I wanted to, but because I needed to help my daughter get ready for her Preference date on Saturday night . In other words, I couldn't stand the thought of her looking super hot without me.

But for the record, she too paid a price for beauty, in the form of a restrictive corset. Let's just say she sustained some internal bruising from having to maintain such perfect posture all night. There are three things that are next to do well with perfect posture--breath, dance and laugh.

Case in point!

So on my way home from Monterey three things happened that have never happened before.

First, my hub texted me. I was sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting for my connecting flight and I had just sent him a text letting him know I had arrived safely. I don't know why I did it, since he goes for weeks without reading his texts, and he never replies, but within a few seconds I got a text back. Take Care it said. Such a kind and . . . unusual thing to say. Kinda tickled my throat for a sec.

Second, I wore my reading glasses in public. I had to in order to read the text.

Third, my plane almost went down over Salt Lake City. I was looking out the window at the time, when suddenly the ground underneath me started dancing around. The Rocky Mountains were shaking their groove thangs like there was no tomorrow. And honestly, I was pretty sure there was no tomorrow. For a fraction of a hair of a split second I thought HA! At least my house is wearing clean underwear! But then those two little words came to mind: Take Care. Had my hub had some sort of a premonition from the Universe? Had he been warning me with his text, bidding me a fond farewell?

It's freaky what two little words can do to you when Salt Lake City is rocking out beneath you.

I reached for my phone to send my hub a final text. But what would my final text say? It's so hard to decide when you're under pressure like that. Take Care, maybe? No, he'd think I was mocking him. Sorry I didn't take care like you asked me? No, too alarmist, plus it would be too weird if the plane didn't go down after all. I love you? Again, that would be too weird if the plane didn't go down.

As I was debating with myself about the perfect final text, the plane picked up speed and lifted it's nose to the sky. Up, up, and away, turning as it ascended above the airport so that all I could see was the long term parking lot, and my car right where we left it in lot 19A.

So close, and yet, so far away. And as they got farther and farther away they all looked so . . . pointless.

From my view in the air I could clearly see the path from the lot to the terminal where my hub and I had made our amazing race just days earlier, and it occurred to me how crazy we must've looked to God that day--me in my new cheetah print ballet shoes 40 paces behind my hub, who was moving like quick silver with both duffel bags slung over his shoulders.

God was probably like "Dude, slow down . . . take a load off. Your plane won't even be there for another 40 minutes."

Or maybe he just looked down in his infinite wisdom and thought, "Take care."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Getaway Vacay

I am out of the state. And not just the state of improvement. In other words, I'm not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

I'm in Cali.

Monterey, to be precise. Oldest city in California and former stomping grounds of John Steinback. Ever heard of him, huh? huh? huh? Of Mice and Men . . . The Grapes of Wrath . . . Cannery Row . . . I've wandered up and down Cannery Row three times now, thank you very much.

I have also meandered down 11th Avenue, past his childhood summer cottage, where he spent the 1930's working on his craft and getting famous.

If there's one thing I love more than famous people, it's famous people's summer cottages. That's where the magic happens, baby!

The craft magic, that is. (Ahem . . .)

I also drove past Steinbeck's childhood home in Salinas. This is what it looks like when you're driving by.

From what I hear some magic happened here too. In that attic window.

But I'm not here to see John Steinbeck's childhood home or summer cottage or Cannery Row. I'm just here to support my hub who is attending a professional conference. To be truthful I didn't even know John Steinbeck was from California before I showed up. Heck, I didn't even know Monterey was from California before I showed up.

See how much edumacation you can get from professional conferencing!

While my hub conferences, I amble. Up and down the docks, and around the wharf, and through the harbor. Sometimes I buy fish and chips from Starbucks, or drink hot chocolate in the plaza. Other times I walk over the bridge and pour Robitussin down the seal's throats. Poor things have picked up a nasty croup, bless their hearts.

If you wanna know what it's like to amble down Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, it's a lot like walking through Costco on Sample day. Only slower. And all the samples are clam chowder. And there's a live jazz band playing in the background. And a lot of boats in the foreground. But if Costco were less crowded and more . . . outdoorsy, it would be just like Costco on sample day.

And if you wanna know what it's like to travel to Monterey with the dummy and her hub it's a lot like The Amazing Race. We are that one couple. The one where the man, who has all the luggage slung over his shoulders, is booking it through the long term parking lot at the airport, calling "ARE YOU COMING?" to the woman 40 paces behind him, whose feet are moving as fast as they can in her new cheetah print ballet shoes.

See I have this routine when it comes to getaway vacays. I have to focus on the getAWAY part before I focus on the VACAY part.

Getting AWAY includes several steps that have to happen before I can leave the house. Things like remodeling the house, topping off the food storage, finishing the scrapbooks, baking bread for all the neighbors . . .

Can I help it if I travel like I live? As if each trip will be my last? For me it's like wearing clean underwear in case I get into a car accident. I can't leave the house until I know my underwear is clean. And remodeled.

So to speak.

My hub is patient with my process until the morning we have to catch our flight, and then he gets quiet. It's 8:45, he'll say. Or it's 8:55.

And so it goes all the way to the airport. It's 9:05. It's 9:15. And then as we're hoofing it through the long term parking lot because, as he puts it, we don't have time for the shuttle, he'll shout over his shoulder, It's 10:15!

No one can cram more meaning into the simple passing of time than my dear hub.

Speaking of passing time, we had to pass quite a bit of time at the gate while waiting for our plane to arrive so we could board.

Mmmhmmm . . . you heard me. And we had to pass even more time in the Phoenix airport waiting for our connecting flight.

More than six hours in total! To get to California! From UTAH!

I could have walked there faster if I wasn't wearing my new cheetah print ballet shoes.

I think you can tell how much your company values you by how they book your business flights. If it takes more than an hour and a half to get from Utah to California you can safely assume you're not near the top of the totem pole. And if your seating assignment is not next to your wife's seating assignment, you're probably closer to the bottom, especially if that seating assignment is the last seat on the plane, next to the window, across from the bathroom.

But no matter. We're having fun in California! Wish you were here!

(And yes, my eyeballs started sweating when I saw the ocean again!)

Monday, November 7, 2011


I finally did it. Boiled Utah County down to one word--a feat I've been working on for the past two plus years since I moved here from Hawaii.

I got the idea from Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert is sitting in an outdoor cafe in Rome with a guy named Giulio. He asks her how she likes the city, and she tells him she likes it fine, but she can tell she doesn't belong. When she explains why he says, "Maybe you and Rome just have different words."

According to Giulio, every city has a different word that defines it and identifies most of the people living there. Says he, "If you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought." Whatever the majority thinks is the word of the city.

New York's word is ACHIEVE, Los Angeles is SUCCEED, Stockholm is CONFORM, and Naples is FIGHT.

Now cover your ears because Rome's word is SEX. Every person in Rome is thinking about sex, all day, every day (except at the Vatican where the word is POWER). This is why Gilbert doesn't feel comfortable there, because sex is not her word. If your own personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there.

When Gilbert tries to define herself with one word, she realizes that our personal words shift and change as we shift and change.

I think she might be on to something. When I was a poor black child growing up in the ghettos of Provo, where we had to walk to school uphill, both ways, in the snow, my word was POWERLESS. I couldn't control my father's drug addiction or his endless battle with Hemophilia, or the fact that I got dropped off at school every day in a station wagon held together with duct tape. But then I went away and growed up and now I am back in Utah after 20 years with a different word. I would like to say that word is EMPOWERED, but life don't shake down that tidy. And anyway, my word is one step beyond EMPOWERED.

My word is WHATEVAH.

This is probably why I felt so at home in Hawaii. You might think everyone in Hawaii is walking around thinking ALOHA, but actually they're thinking WHATEVAH.

This is also probably why, although I love living in Utah, and I know this is the place, I don't feel like this is my place. Maybe because we have different words. The collective word for Utah County is IMPROVE. Everyone is walking around thinking IMPROVE, IMPROVE, IMPROVE, and not just their shining moments, if you get my drift.

Some of you might have thought the word would be STRESS since Utah got voted the most stressed state in the union last year. It makes sense if you think about it because it's stressful to constantly IMPROVE, especially when you are trying to IMPROVE faster than your neighbor. You try topping yourself every year, not to mention everybody else around you. In Utah last years good, better and best is this years gooder, betterer and bester.

If you think about it, the word STRESS is a natural by-product of the word IMPROVE. You get me?

And the people aren't the only ones thinking about improvement. Right now the word on the streets is UNDER-CONSTRUCTION, which is another natural by-product of IMPROVE. Nearly every street and freeway in Utah County is getting a face lift. It's like all of Utah County is a character in a Judy Blume book. The whole county is thinking, "We must, we must, we must increase our bust. And our trust. But not our lust. Or our dust. We must decrease our lust and our dust."

Once again, if you think about it, the desire to increase your bust and your trust, and decrease your lust and your dust is also a natural by-product of IMPROVE.

I have to admit that after hearing that church lady tell my former young woman that her voice wasn't appropriate for church I was tempted to change the collective word to CENSOR. Maybe everyone is walking around thinking CENSOR, CENSOR, CENSOR. If so, it's working. When that girl opened her mouth again, she was suddenly restrained and contained, as if she was trying to stay within the lines of her chalk body outline.

But then if you think about it, the word CENSOR is also a by-product of the word IMPROVE . .

But whatevah.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Voice Lessons

Okay, I finally broke down and bought a bag of Halloween candy. At 50% off. You know why? Because a candyless house after Halloween is a FREAKY place to be. Especially when one member of the household has a secret candy stash that everyone else wants to sink their teeth into.

Twilight's got nothing on us.

As Gad as my witness, I will never be a Halloween humbug again.

So I need to make a correction to my last post. My daughter and her friends did not make and deliver Valentines on Halloween at all. They made and delivered creepy stalker notes, which fit the spirit of the holiday better. So they say. Apparently it was just a spooky prank. So they say. And I believe them.

Although just as there is a little bit of truth in every joke, I bet there is also a little bit of love in every creepy stalker note. A little bit of Valentines in every Halloween, so to speak.

But that's just one dummy's opinion, and the thing I love about being a dummy is that if your opinion offends, you can always just blink and shrug and say, "huh?"

Plus I love just sitting down at the computer without a thought in my head and letting my fingers do the talking for me--stream of conscience style. I'm amazed at the utter nonsense that comes out when I'm not planning or preparing or pondering. A cleansing breath after doing massive amounts of serious writing, which is what I've been up to for the past few months. We writers call it working on our craft.

I've been working on my craft, peeps! And guess what! I'm in a writer's critique group now. So I can work on my craft.

I. love. it.

What writer's critique groups do is they support and encourage each other as they work on their craft. And also they critique each other. Which means they help each other get literary.

Bet you can't guess what the #1 critique writers who are working on their craft give each other.

Too bloggy.

Bloggy is an adjective now. It means too much punch. And in my case, too much spiked punch, if you get my drift.

But yay for too much spiked punch every so often, huh!? After a hard days work, huh!?

Can I get an amen?

It may not get you into grad school or earn you respect in intellectual circles, but what the hay! That's what I always say. What the hay!

I'm writing a collection of voice lessons, and guess what lesson I learned from my own voice lessons? I learned that I love my dummy voice. Fer reals, I would marry her, cept she couldn't support me.

I've also learned that your voice is fragile. You gotsta protect it because when it doesn't blend, people will let you know. Not writer's critique people, who are trying to help you refine your voice, but proper authority people.

I'm talking about one of my ex-young women. She's still a young woman, but she's not MY young woman anymore since the bishop broke up with me. See a few nights ago I attended YW in Excellence and my ex-young woman was practicing a musical number for the program. She was singing her heart out and her voice was so fresh, so original, and so unique that it bounced off my soul in new and exciting ways.

But all of a sudden the woman accompanying her on the piano stopped, and, in her best church lady voice, gave her a voice lesson of her own.

"Maybe that type of singing is okay for a country song, but IT'S. NOT. APPROPRIATE here in the church."

You know what I have to say about that?

Because that just ain't true now, is it! Every voice is beautiful to God. Especially a voice that comes straight from the heart.

Which reminds me of a hundred stories.

Maybe I'll tell them someday.

When I'm finished working on my craft.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I mean Merry Christmas!

Fer reals, one day I'm in my t-shirt walking my dog in a world consumed by goblins and ghosts, and the next day I'm walking through a winter wonderland, listening to Justin Beiber deck the halls under the mistletoe.

(Where did Thanksgiving go?)

Seriously, JB's got an R&B Christmas album out, peeps. And he raps the Little Drummer Boy. In fact, he might even think he is the little drummer boy.

(Pa rum pum pum pum.)

Either that or the king of pop.

Check it:

Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Yeah I’m on the drum yeah I’m on the snare drum
Yeah I’m on the beat cause the beat goes dumb
And I only spit heat cause I’m playing for the sun
Playing for the king, playing for the title
I’m surprised you didn’t hear this in the Bible
I’m so tight, I might go psycho
Christmas time, so here’s a recital
I’m so bad like Michael I know
I’m still young, I go, I go
Stupid, stupid, love like Cupid
I’m the drummer boy so do it, do it

See what I mean?

I'm toying with the idea of adding a rap to my Crash Test Dummy Christmas album.

I'm surprised I didn't hear this in the Bible either.

Does anyone else gotsda Bieber fever?

Yeah, me neither. Me neither. Me neither.

Fa la la. La la la. La. La. La.


Okay, that was random. I didn't come here to rap about JB, but when he mentioned stupid and cupid in the same sentence it made me think of something that happened on Halloween. My daughter made Valentines!

I knew you wouldn't believe me so I snapped some photographic evidence when she went out to deliver them:

See if I was frumpty dumpty for Halloween, she was grumpty dumpty. You get me? All because she heard that people in Utah wait by the door with their shotguns for trick-or-treaters over the legal age of 12.

This did not bode well with her. She likes candy. And she likes Halloween. And there are no shotguns in Hawaii on Halloween.

So we all stayed home and pouted, without any candy, because I didn't even buy any candy. In fact, my twins had to risk their life to go out trick or treating just to get some candy to give to our trick or treaters.

It was just a big ole' McScroogey mess. Especially after we turned the channel to Hawaii Five-O. We all just sat there crying in our candy. (Minus the candy.)

But then my daughter's friends came over and all the sudden they were making . . . valentines. For boys.

Go figure.

They got busted, of course, because cupid ain't on-duty yet, and you can't get anything past the boogeyman.

(Is that even how you spell boogeyman?)

Btw, do I sound like I've been sniffing too much candy? (Minus the candy?)