Monday, December 19, 2005

Good Karma

Lorien tagged me. I'm it. And since I'm the neighbor who never does one of those special "make a copy of this note and give a treat to two neighbors. . . " game my part of town is so fond of, I thought I'd be a good sport this time. It's that time of year for it anyway. Maybe it's just the 10 year-old inside of me who worries that if I stop the chain letter, something bad will happen to me. Here are five things you might not know about me:

1. I got a perfect score on my sixth grade science fair entry "How Does Yeast Make Bread Dough Rise?" Ironically, after many different receipes and hearty attempts, I, to this day, cannot make a decent loaf of bread.

2. I was on the Mayor's Water Conservation Task Force in Lincoln, Nebraska. I dare anyone to beat me in a game of High School Trading Cards.

3. I've always wanted to pierce my nose. I think it looks pretty, I really do.

4. I was in three different swing choirs in jr and sr high and once, in an old folks' home during my big solo, a man collapsed right in front of me and I kept singing. The paramedics came.

5. When Christopher and I got engaged, we both had braces (for the second time).

I tag: Wendy Sue, Bek, and Topher (again).

Monday, November 28, 2005


I get HUGE when I'm pregnant and my back hurts and I waddle. Christopher starts making fun of my outfits, specifically my Birkenstalks and black stretch pants which become my uniform, and I lose my sense of humor (that usually falls by the seventh month). When I was pregnant with Phoebe, expecting a baby the week before Christmas (she was born two days after Christmas), I decided to get all my Christmas shopping done by Halloween. That was the best Christmas ever. I wasn't distracted by all the shiny lights and mark-downs, ("Hey, what about THIS? No, THAT! No! THIS is BETTER!"). I've tried to keep the tradition ever since and I highly recommend it. But I guess it's too late for that now, slackers, because even Thanksgiving has come and gone.

The oddest present I ever got was a severed dreadlock from a boyfriend. He cut off a really long black dreadlock that resembled a fat caterpillar and put it in a zip-lock bag with a long letter. I'd like to say that at the time it was romantic, but even then it was a little bit creepy. I found it years later, among a trunk full of earnest journal entries. It scared me half to death at first, but then it brought back really funny memories. Christopher said it was disgusting and told me to throw it away. I like to think it was because he was jealous, but I'm sure it was more of a question of hygiene.

I haven't made my mind up about the whole giving a practical gift versus a frivolous one. It's hard enough to distinguish between wants and needs anyway and the holidays intensifies that dilemma for me. Sure, I'd love a food chopper, but will my heart leap when I open it Christmas 'morn? Maybe. (I melted my old one when I left it on a hot stove, so do I really deserve a new one? How will I learn?) Do I really need Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III? How often will I watch them? If I break it down per viewing will I earn it back after a year?

I also don't have a firm policy on neighborhood gifts. Do I give them to all the neighbors? How far down the street is appropriate? Do I give them to people who will give US treats? What about my First Nation neighbors? They haven't returned any of the items they've borrowed. . . so should we just call it even? I hate that awkward, "Oh, thanks for the treat! Merry Christmas! I've got YOUR treat. . .right. . .here. . . justaminute. . .lemme go. . .find . . .it. . ." It may be better to give than to receive, but sometimes it's just easier to not give and hope not to receive.

I do have strong feelings about some holiday gift-giving that might be of use to you:

1. No homemade coupons (20 minute back-rub, mow the lawn, etc). It's just a certificate that says "I forgot, and hopefully you will."
2. No Bratz dolls (Barbie's slutty cousin with low self-esteem).
3. No shopping on Black Friday (is that $20 you saved worth a piece of you that just died inside?)

Hope that helps! Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thinking About it. . .

When you hear that familiar gurgling and your son starts to throw up as you rush him to the bathroom, do you stop and let him throw up on the stairs, or do you continue to rush him into the bathroom, making a nice throw-up trail on the way?  I really haven't made up my mind on this one. How many bites of "whatever" is the correct amount before your kids leave the table? We know they really aren't going to starve.  Is it okay to wake up the baby?  EVER?  I've always liked the idea that you should know the answers to life's possible questions before you are faced with them so that, in the moment you need to make a decision, you won't hesitate. But some mysteries remain unanswered--much like the game sensation "What's Grosser than Gross." 'cause really, I can't make a decision in that game to save my life.
I went to pick up a check from BYU.  A seemingly simple task, picking up a check, but BYU made it a really special journey for me.  By special I don't mean endearing or touching. But I love BYU, I really do, and so I'm always willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  After receiving two phone calls in two days that I had a check WAITING for me (and my mind pictures some 19 year-old plain-looking coed dressed in an awesome black Chico's skirt sitting behind a sterile gray desk, holding my check and checking her watch every 30 seconds--the pressure!) and a quick glance at the checkbook, I decided to THINK ABOUT picking it up. It takes me a while to ease into these things. I know what they will entail. I know what kind of determination, patience and speed it will take. I know the kind of negotiating I must be prepared to do. For example, I know that Owen will run off. I know that he'll want to see and touch everything. He'll run and get as near to the water-fountain as he can until I yell "don't even think about it!" and he'll laugh and go try to climb a tree. I know that Phoebe will take her time walking and go in the opposite direction the rest of us are moving. I know she'll say hello to all the boys and flirt as she says "My name is PHOEBE! I'm a bean-er-ina!" and she'll pick flowers she's not supposed to and tell me she has to tinkle right when I'm trying to talk to an adult or worse, tell me that boys have a penis and she has a vagina. Hugh could be an angel and smile, instantly captivating every stranger within a three mile radius, or he'll scream at the top of his lungs like a tortured cat. I consider all the possibilities and my adventurous pioneer spirit sets it. Not all of those things will happen all at once, I know. It is a grab bag of sorts; which one will happen on this journey? Which magical combination. "So", I say to myself, "feelin' lucky?"
After being directed to five different departments in the Administration Building, I finally come to discover that I do not have a check waiting for me. It will be ready on Monday. Of course it will.
After I load the kids in the car (details of aforementioned "grab bag" not important) as two 20's something students watch (in horror? in delight? I wonder), I say, "Enjoy the show?" they laugh and I flip my hair back and laugh, too and it was at that moment that I realized that I, too, was enjoying the show: "the show" that is motherhood. NO, just kidding. They just looked uncomfortable and smiled and I got into the car and told the kids to "hang on--we've got one more stop."

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, the Clarks have been to Artic Circle to get a square pumpkin meal with spooky Halloween flashlight, an honor we reserve for Halloween only. The rest of the year the kids have to get the "value" kids meal, which is a treat in and of itself because sometimes it's just a bag of burgers and some fries to share with water--at home! (at least I'm not the mom who orders the bag of burgers and brings her own kool-aid from home and cuts the burgers in half to make them go along longer IN THE RESTAURANT. . . I'm just saying. . . that I have. . . some. . . of my pride) This marks the beginning of a very special spooky season, and I don't think you need me to type it out.

The lights have been strung: orange and green and white in-between glow in the dark skeletons, spiders and leaves, the decorations have been hung with care: pumpkin stands that didn't sell at that #@$! art market, spicy candles, and a new ghost rug from Target, and the children are watching Icabod and Charlie Brown Halloween as I write (what's up with Snoopy and the WWI flying ace? I never did get that-). The Clarks have a long, strong tradition of Halloween obsession. I married into the Clark family and although my mother hung wooden pumpkins with silly faces on our front porch, and other than trick-or-treating, that was all the Halloween tradition I was brought up with. The Clarks, however, start celebrating (or at least talking about it and planning it) the day after the 4th of July. All of my children have inherited this obsession. October is a long, long month culminating into a night that inevitably ends in vomit.

O-dog has thrown up every Halloween of his life with the exception of last year, although there was some dry heaving. Maybe a little wet, but we gave it to him. He gets too excited and it's the one day that I let him monitor himself. It sort of stands as a cautionary tale for the rest of the year: "Are you sure you want more than one cookie? Remember what happened on Halloween. . . ?" I've got to use what I've been given as a mother. Miles, on the other hand, will count his candy, save it, put it in order from most favorite to least, try to manipulate the other children into giving him his favorite, or trade a kit kat for a smartie or gross peanut chew (thanks grandma, but no thanks) or something like that. I really think the way you treat Halloween says a lot about your personality. Phoebe's still figuring it all out, but keeps changing her mind on what princess to be. As all mothers of young girls knows, Disney has made a pact with Satan and I think it's appropriate that we acknowledge that on All Hallow's Eve.

My favorite Halloween memory, however gross (but isn't that the point of Halloween?) is when we were living in England. Dawlish was the perfect setting for a spooky holiday night, but the English couldn't have been less excited about celebrating it. Which is so funny, because they're usually so excited about everything. . . humm. I decided to throw a Halloween party for some friends with little kids so that my little boys wouldn't miss out on this really important holiday (and so I could talk to some adults that week).

Some of the highlights:

Costumes: no one came in costumes but my boys dressed in Superman jammies, but one mum brought trash bags and made costumes for her three kids out of them there (impressive), because she thought that was the whole point of Halloween--you make your own costumes.

Treats: I made chocolate cupcakes with crushed up oreos on top and gummy worms. I told the kids that in America kids eat dirt and worms all the time and they believed me. One little girl, Rebecca, wouldn't touch it even after her mother assured her I was kidding. I introduced everyone to the magical confection that is candy corn.

Activities: I read spooky books which was fun, and then Rebecca, still suspicious of the American dirt-eater, asked me to put on her witch's make-up to match her (trash-bag) costume. I was so excited she asked me to do it, combining all my loves: make-up, Halloween, and small children. I did a great job, I really did. When she looked at her face in the mirror, she started to cry and made her mom wipe it off.

After everyone had left, I decided it was time for us to go get some of that good English chocolate! We went out into the night and saw an old lady across the road giving something to some kids so we thought, "Okay, they do this here, lets go!" As we approached the door the lady yelled, "I'm not doing this anymore!" and slammed the door (my babies were in the stroller--3 and 1.5, niiiice), so we went on. . . and on. . . and found NO ONE was offering candy. So we went to my friend's house (with each step I'm getting more and more determined that my children WILL TRICK OR TREAT!) and her kids, who came to our party, were asleep, but she gave us really great jam donuts and we called it a night.

I had bought three large sacks of individually wrapped Malteasters for our Halloween visitors and not one person came to our door that night. Owen found them, and the rest was a large sloppy mess on my kitchen floor. And every year since, we are confident he will carry on our family tradition. Artic Circle and throwing up. I guess I didn't realize how very white-trash our traditions are, but it really works for us.

Friday, September 16, 2005

In 'yo Face

I've been wondering what to write about, which suddenly put pressure on the whole process, which paralyzed me, so I just avoided the whole process and read and read interesting blogs. Then I thought about what a hypocrite I was, thinking there was nothing really to write about, because when I taught English my students would say "I dunno what to write about!" everyday and I would turn around and tell them that there was always something to write about. . . I would list ideas on the board, yell them out loud, and even suggest, "Tell me how lame I am for making you write nonstop for 10 minutes everyday."

There are three rules for freewriting: 1. write nonstop; don't let your pen stop moving 2. don't edit yourself; don't go back and worry about punctuation, etc. 3. write about whatever you want. I should have included an inspirational #4 like "always believe in yourself" or "stay in school," but I didn't teach long enough to really get down a system. Reading the journals was always interesting, as you can imagine, but a little disappointing. I thought I would be reading stuff out of Dangerous MInds (starring stage and screen gem Michelle Pheiffer) which was actually required reading in one of my teaching classes at the BYU, can you imagine? It came in handy when dealing with gang warfare and drug dealing which is so prevalent in Spanish Fork, UT. Instead I read about boring stuff they thought I wanted to read, like impromptu critiques about what we were reading (boring), or what they might do after school (boring).

But there WAS this one journal (isn't there always one shining teaching moment, forever frozen in every teacher's career?) written by a seventh grader, which is classic. This kid wrote "Read THIS Mrs. Clark! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, IN 'YO FACE!!! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah blah. . . " (you get the idea). Apparently he hated me, so at least he was thinking, and hated writing, so at least he was honest. This journal pleased me to no end. I wrote "Thanks for writing the entire time! Great job!" and gave him full credit. Of course I did.

There's always something to write about: like how I'm doing "boot-camp: sleep through the night" for baby this weekend, how I'm painting and redecorating some rooms--I keep changing my mind, (can't make a decision), how I'm so excited for my tv show's to start (A.Development, Lost, Alias), the book I'm reading, the painting I can't seem to finish, things that annoy me to no end that I can't ignore, people who annoy me who I have imaginary conversations with when I vacuum, fun things I want to do like go to dinner with interesting people, topics I would talk about on my radio show, how I don't have a radio show, but should, first sentences to short stories that need to be written, desserts I like, in order, blah, blah, blah, blah. . .

Monday, September 05, 2005

Fireflies and Runzas

About this time of year I get homesick for Nebraska. I grew up there. It was always about this time of year that my mother, raised in Midvale and Orem, UT would heave out an audible sigh and say it was just about time the leaves would be changing on the mountains and how beautiful it was and how she was missing it and--now she wouldn't SAY this next part, but I just KNEW she was thinking it--how awful it was to be in this flat, boring, hot, humid state. I'll give her flat, hot, and humid, but as much as I love Utah, there are many reasons I love Nebraska, and always will:

Nebraskans are all very proud to be from Nebraska. If you ask a Nebraskan where they're from, they say it loudly and proudly--no cowardess or apology, or explanation of how they were born somewhere else and just live in Nebraska for the time being. Utahans are famous for this: "Yeah, I'm originally from California, but I moved here when I was 4." Guess what? You're 30, You're from Utah now. My husband, who has lived in Utah since he was a young boy, gets caught doing this all the time. When asked where he lives, where he's from, etc he says something like, "I was born in Bozeman," or "I've lived all over," or "I've lived mostly here, but also in Finland and England for a few years." Not a Nebraskan. Like my famous brother James (stop skimming), he even wore his Nebraska t-shirt to shows and on his album. Of course he did.

Nebraskans are generally easy-going. They don't over-plan an event or worry about what their neighbors think. They don't buy huge houses they can't afford or buy huge RV's. They hang out. They don't make a big production out of everything. They go for walks, go to clubs and bars to listen to cool music. There's a great music scene in Nebraska. They love to talk and claim ownership of everyone who has ever lived in Nebraska. They have Nebraska reunions (seriously, what other state does that in Utah?!)--that's how my sister met up with her now husband.

Nebraskans dress a certain way. Topher says he can spot it, even though he's only been there a few times, but he has a talent for such things. There are many stereotypes, here are my favorites: "the mom": short, sporty hair-cut, sweatshirt with a rolled turtleneck under it, gold chain dangling out, short pleated shorts, tennis shoes with socks to match the color of the sweatshirt. Classic. These women are known to wear sleeveless dress shirts and lots of gold jewelry. "the fan": you'll usually spot these types in airports and while on vacation. They wear head to toe Nebraska "Big Red" football crap--t-shirts with the hat with the blazer with the backpack. They have the vision, and Tom Osborne is their guide. "the pseudo-intellectual": I'm not talking about the sorority girls or frat boys, they have their own category, but I'm talking about the fashion-forwards. The sit-in-smokey-coffe-houses-and-talk-about-politics-and-poetry-and-music crowd. My sister, Pandy, was their leader for a while and definitely the best dressed of all time. I always wanted to be in that fashion category, but always seem to miss it by a gap jean or Target knock-off jacket. You can't mass-market a look, Lisa! I'll never learn.

Nebraska is home of "the Runza," fireflies, and Big Red football. These are a few of my favorite things. A "Runza" is a delightful pocket of meat and seasonings and cheese rolled up in a pillow of soft home-made bread. It is the ultimate hotpocket. I desperately craved them during all my pregnancies, but everyone thought I was "kidding" when I asked them to ship them, frozen, to me. As if I would kid about something that important. In college my roommate Wendy, a fellow Nebraskan, and I tried to make them. Imagine a homesick freshman eating crackery breaded lumps of bland ground beef. Is there a more pathetic image? and fireflies--is there another bug out there that you are really excited to catch? Have you ever smeared on on the sidewalk to make your name in fluorescent splendor? Could there be anything more magical? And I don't even like football, or organized sports, really, but it's like a religion in Nebraska, and everyone's routing for the same team (no blue versus red--you know what I'm talking about)--everyone in the entire state wears red on game days whether they go to the game or not, whether they like football or not. I like that idea of unifying a state like that.

Sigh (audible), I miss Nebraska at this time of the year with the huge, gorgeous trees changing colors, canopying over the street off 27th and Park Avenue. I miss going downtown to hear a friend's band in a small venue--music deafeningly loud, with the smell of cigarette smoke and beer all around as I sip my coke. I miss the smell of heavy air and the sound of cicadas as I talk to friends on my wide, stone, wrap-around porch. I've lived in Utah for 12 years now, but, you guys, I totally grew up in Nebraska.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Reality Bites

I always wonder if I see life the way it really is. Not just how other people see it, although that is certainly a part of it, but life as it really is. Like I wonder why my five year-old shaved his tongue with Topher's razor (yeah, it makes me cringe just to type it) and not only what was going through his head at the time, but for the moment afterwards as he was sucking on a cloth, looking up at me with his puppy-dog eyes as I struggled to see how it all fit in the grande scheme of things and what sort of reaction I should put out into the universe, what--yell at him? comfort him? I did both--you know, just to cover all the bases--and I wondered what would amount to all these little incidents in his life and mine. What would he remember about the incident? Would he remember it at all? Would he ever look at a razor in the same way? I won't.

I've been complaining so much this Summer about Provo City not fixing our basement after they were at fault for flooding it with 2 inches of rain water until yesterday when my neighbor discovered that she had 10 inches of sewage in her basement because of a block in the city's pipes. Turns out it was a dog. Some idiot had put a dog in the pipes (at first alive or dead? the world will never know) and I thought about the idiot who thought that was a good idea, or was it an accident? a dare? Turns out several homes had poo in their basements yesterday and the damages will be in the tens of thousands. Does that guy (and, yes, I'm being sexist, I'm just so sure it's a male aged 14-22) even know what happened? I wish I had a good poo-joke to insert here, for Eric's birthday, but I don't.

I left my baby (and other children) with my mom and dad while I saw Topher's musical (another blog for another day) and when I came back and asked how the baby did, my mom said "Oh, he was fine! An angel. . . what a beautiful. . ." and then my dad cut her off with an indignant "Thank goodness you're back! OH, he was AWFUL! Man he can scream! What's wrong with him?!" Now I know my dad didn't have anything to do with "watching children," because just as enthusiastically he yelled, "Now come and see your kitchen sink! It's never BEEN this clean!" He was really pleased with himself, and while I sat and nursed the baby he proceeded with his itemized list of household chores including pouring bleach down all my drains and removing that nasty glob of Gorilla glue (a present from him, I might add, and it is, undeniably, the best glue in the world, but, like all things, comes with a price) we couldn't get off our bathroom counter. Well, he was really proud of himself--he got it off. Of course I wasn't offended by my father, (but I did tell him my mini-van was a mess, "by the way"), he has his own way and I've grown to love it, but I thought the dramatic difference between the two reports interesting.

I'm not claiming to have a firm grasp of reality, but I do think a lot when vacuuming. And since you know what my father is like, you'll know I do it a lot. I think that the people who have the most interesting things to say about the way things really are unlikely sages. Like everyone assumes that my little brother who has fame and money would be out of touch with reality, which isn't true. Because he has this experience of celebrity, coming from totally different beginnings in the Midwest, he has a really unique perspective and, as a result, has really interesting insights about life as it is. (As a rule, I must note, I don't want to know what Brittany or Paris or Angelina [and her mohawk baby] have to say about life, politics, or exercise.) My friend Erbecca has gone through more craziness than anyone I know, enough to make someone like me roll into a ball under my bed with a box of Godiva and never come out, but she always says, "it is what it is" and "ignore the crazy" with a sense of humor. My friend from Dawlish, England who once sold donuts and, is this right?, braided hair on the beaches of Greece, and lived in the rough part of London with her little ones, has grand insight into the human condition. And she lives in a quiet, little sleepy-town full of waterfowl.

I love any movie about awesome young adults discovering awesome things about life and reality, as beautifully documented in the 90's cult classic, Reality Bites. Because they always come up with awesome new insights about following your dreams and being true to yourself. But what do they have to say about poo sludge in your basement and babies who scream like dinosaurs?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Roll Call

They say it takes a village. No, I don't mean Hillary Clinton who used the term in a book she "wrote" about "community" or "family," or something. I didn't read it, but maybe I should, 'cause Hillary didn't sit around baking cookies and giving Chelsea velcro shoes, oh no, she was working the village. In any case, I mean the blogging village I have come to love so dear. I am glad to reconnect with old friends, find new ones, read funny stuff, write something and send it out into the world (it gives me the illusion of productivity). But it's not all roses and G-2 gel's, it has also brought out some insecurities that surprise me.

I'm such a busybody and I fully admit it: I want to know who's reading my blogs. Do they read one, or all of them? Why don't they comment? (not the "they" who know all about the village, lest I confuse, I mean the readers) The other day I heard someone I know had read my blog--I had no idea. . . this made me a little uncomfortable. I mean, anyone can read them, but it's somehow more comfortable if a stranger reads it than a person, who I actually know. . . I want to know how long they looked at my site--was it just for a second? What took their attention away? Why did they leave? I have horrible images in my mind of people reading my profile and laughing so that somehow I become their latest inside joke--"ohjudy" takes an ironic turn. . . I also want to know who's reading for organizational writing purposes: will this comment offend X ? Will Y appreciate that? It will bring the village closer together--I just know it.

I don't want to come off as a narcissist; I'm not asking for your empty, solicited feedback. People, this is not the time nor the place. I'm just suggesting a roll call. It seems like an appropriate time: Back to school season. So hopefully the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and white paste will inspire you silent anonymous writers and voyeurs to participate. You can post without anyone having to read anything about you. You don't have to have a blog. It's safe. Everyone is doing it. Only one time won't hurt. Just say something, anything. What's your favorite writing utensil? Lipstick color? Anyone?



Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Workin' It

I love pens. I love all school supplies, but I am especially in love with pens. I love the ultra fine point pilots, and my G-2's, and I have every color of Sharpie. I even have forest green, a color I loathe, but I have the Sharpie because I couldn't help myself. I think I became a teacher because I love pens so much and no one questions a teacher who has one million pens, but anyone else, well, this might raise some eyebrows ( I'm already self-conscious about the reaction I get when anyone discovers how many lipsticks/balms/gloss I carry at one time). The second reason I became a teacher was so I could draw on the chalkboard. Don't get me started on this business of replacing chalkboards with whiteboards. I have very strong feelings about this, but I'm determined not to get sidetracked, as is my nature, so back to pens. In conclusion: I love them--but not the 89 cents for a pack of 10 kind. The good ones. The reason I became a teacher. Oh yeah, I was a teacher once, which makes me think of all the jobs I've had. Did that flow nicely? Well, I ain't a teacher anymore. . . So here is my employment history.

Paper route: I delivered papers at 12 years old for the Lincoln Journal. I hated it, but I learned to fold papers really quickly and to hate old people (they were always trying to make my job harder--on purpose/deliberately/with disdain: I tried to get everyone to pay by mail so I wouldn't have to go to each one of their houses each month and the old people wouldn't because "it's part of the job!" grumble grumble). I decided to get the job because my older brother, Christopher, had had a route for years and when I complained about the inequality of housework among my brothers and sisters to my mother, her reasoning for giving him less chores was because he had a paper route. So how dumb did I feel when I had the same amount of household chores, but a paper route in addition. . . So I did what any other spurned preteen would, I split the route in two, paid my younger brother and sister a small fee to do it, ordered the rubberbands, and made a little profit.

Babysitting: This counts, right? I liked it, especially when the kids went to bed and I could help myself to a big bowl of sugar-cereal. You know what I"m talkin' about. It went smoothly, some better than others. I hated the family across the street with three kids because they'd say they'd be home at 11, and then they'd come home at 3 smelling of pot and pay me $1 an hour: with 3 kids, and even for the 80's that was cheap. There was a family I loved, though, because the boys were darling and made me Valentines and all sorts of sweet things, but I once had a really uncomfortable car ride home with the dad. He was really, really cute and he drove a cool corvette and I had a crush on him. I babysat for them starting in the 7th grade and the summer before 9th grade, lets see, how can I say this delicately? I went from a AA to a C and Mr. Corvette told me he noticed that I was "growing up," and "filling out" and something painfully awkward like that and there was this awful moment of silence I'll never forget and that was that. So imagine how confused I was when I found out, years later, that he left his wife. . . 'cause he was gay. Turns out he didn't love me or my filled-out sweater.

The Gallup Polls: "Hello, My name is Lisa and I'm calling from the National Gallup Organization. I assure you I'm not trying to sell you anything, we're just conduction a survey about (insert a variety of subjects: apples, tabacco, President Bush (the first one), insurance, the People's Choice Awards, etc)." I must have said that one million times. (no Miles, not exactly "one million," it's just an estimate). Gallup's Polling headquarters are in Omaha/Lincoln due to our "lack of an identifyable accent." Nebraskans are really proud of that. Working at Gallup was a prerequisite for high school graduation; everyone worked there at some point in time. It was a great place for showing up, talking-gossiping-flirting (point of interest: the office vixen went to the Catholic high school and her name was Chastity-how funny is that?), ordering food, leaving and then doing a half an hour of work. You were paid per quota so it could take you 15 minutes or 4 hours to get your surveys done. Sounds exciting? Well, it was. You had your finger on the pulse of the country. Do people like apples? Why yes, yes they do. Machintosh ones, in fact. Not everyone is privy to such information, but we were. I worked there all through high school and the summer I came back from my freshman year at college. I also verified calls. I'd have to call people, bugging them a second time and asking them if they REALLY completed a survey weeks ago. Basically I was questioning their integrity, and we both knew it. But I doodled a lot, played a lot of Peter Murphy and Fishbone.

Leon's Market: Featured in "Terms of Endearment," this little gourmet grocery store is within walking distance from my home. It's small and overpriced, but it has the best steaks in the city, and that's why it stays open. I needed a second job when I came back from my first year at BYU to kill the summer and interrupt the time inbetween sleeping and listening to the Indigo Girls in the dark. I did slave labor for the Deli women (two old ladies in their 70's who were going to teach me a thing or two about life), which I didn't mind because then the time would go by faster. Time stood still in that place. I did everything I could to keep busy. I offered to make signs for the deli, for the front counter, for the meat counter, for the . . . you get the picture. Some of those signs are still up today (not because they're so great, but because time stands still in that place--they still think it's 1991). I dusted the gum. EVERYDAY. Once I started wiping the windows and the manager told me, "we have someone who does that." I dusted the candybars. ANYTHING, I've never been so bored in my life. But it's here that I learned how to make watergate salad and learned the subtle, yet important distinction between swiss and baby swiss cheese, and my life's never been the same.

Hogi Yogi yogurt blender/hogi maker: I know, I know. Not the proudest moment in my life, but I'm not too proud to make an honest living. . . does your opinion change of me if I tell you I only worked there for 3 months? Yeah, I blended. Raspberry/cream cheese: try it. An old boyfriend introduced me to his fiance my first week on the job. One of my proudest moments. Even Topher, then just a friend, came in once to mock me (oreo-vanilla, yeah, I remember). I left when my then roomate, Rebecca (www.ignorethecrazy.blogspot), convinced her manager to hire me as a watress at a restaraunt if I helped clean up cockroaches after Saturday's bug bomb. That should have been a sign. . .

Waitress at The Underground: Certainly one of the more lucrative jobs. It was a great job for me: I worked with really cool people, there were plenty of "work drama" to keep me entertained, and as much Mr. Pibb as I could drink. I learned a lot, too. Apparently it's romantic to eat dinner in an old-fashioned car in a fake speak-easy, french fries you don't pay for ARE, in fact, better tasting, and always tip 20 percent. Some of the highlights include: Watching Keith, the cook, tease Marsha, an 80 year-old who got her hair done every Thursday and wore lots of dark blue eyeshadow (we were never sure what her job title was, but she made bleu cheese dressing and cheesecake, and wrote letters to everyone who had ever worked at the Underground) that when she died, since she had worked there for so long, they'd have her and her cats stuffed and placed on the mantle by the piano. Then she'd cry. But they were best friends so it's okay. That scene happened every Friday night. Rebecca and I would always get Keith to cook us up something: french toast, prime rib, etc. . . Keith was a really good cook, too and I've never eaten so well in my life!

Bombay Company: I sold overpriced, cheap fancy-looking furniture, but mostly I talked to the other employees because it was another "dusting" job. In a two years we had three different gay managers, all of whom were really funny and hated their job but LOVED "Pretzel Time" (what time is it?)! There was one exciting day: I was interviewed by company headquarters because apparently there'd be "a call" about someone stealing some stuff. Then the next day we had a new manager! I still, to this day, don't know who it was.

Sears and Western Watts: Both involved calling people, but not selling anything. Both were really boring, and I told them so.

Spanish Fork Middle School: 6th and 7th Grade: I will go to heaven just for having this job. Seriously, the deal's been made. I remember when I thought I was really getting to them--I mean, we were really having a deep discussion. I was really going somewhere and I thought they were with me, I remember saying, "Have you ever heard the expression 'the pen is mightier than the sword?' " and Thomas, who had a problem, physically, sitting still immediately raised his hand excitedly and said, "Oh yeah! I totally know what you mean!" I smiled, (this was what I knew teaching was all about--I had FINALLY gotten through to them) he continued, "That's totally true! 'Cause this one time, when that guy got out his pen, there was poison in it and then he stuck it in that other guy. . . " hmmm. .. where are we going with this. . . "and then it had a bomb in it and he TOTALLY killed him with the pen. It's so much better than a sword." Oh yeah. It occurs to me he's talking about a scene from "Mission Impossible", and that pretty much sums up that experience/job. That, or the time we were reading "The Devil's Arithmetic" and talking about the Holocaust and a student raises his hand in the middle of our discussion and asks where "the name bagel comes from?"

Springville High School: 10th and 11th Grade: see above description, but remove "students who can't physically keep to themselves," and add "can't physically look anything but bored."

Voice Overs: Ellis, Commercials, Peak Productions, BrainGarden, JuniorsGiants. What could be better than talking into a microphone and getting paid for it? It's the best gig ever, but I'm always afraid someone will find out it's not that hard and do it themself. But I could really use the money, so mum's the word.

Acting: Garrens Improv Comedy, which doesn't really count because I got paid, like fifty cents a show, and it was fun. But I did get paid for some away shows, so I'm totally going to count it. Don't let me deceive you, I don't consider myself "an actress." I usually get calls for audtions because they're calling Topher in and, well, I answer the phone. And how awkward is that? They kind of have to ask me then. I have done some Commercials, and I think I've always been "the mom," so does it really count as acting? If you're Cox cable and you're wondering if you should send the check, the answer's "yes." "Stalking Santa"--I'm "the pregnant mom" in that (really stretching it) and Topher's "wife," so as you can tell, I'm really choosing roles that will challenge me as an artist.

BYU Independent Study: Science Fiction Class: I wrote the original online class when Miles was a baby, and I'm revising it now. It seemed like a good idea at the time, then came the birth of child #4 and strep throat and a disk drive that won't work and now I'm wondering if it's worth all the work. Oh, you'll pay me three dollars? Yeah, it's worth it.

Thanks for reading my blog about pens. (I'm trying to wrap this up all nicely, is it working?) As you can see, I used a pen in ALL OF MY JOBS, so you can see how important they are to me. And lipstick. I've needed lipstick in every single one. Now you know what to get me for Christmas.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Our Lamanite Friends

For the last week I've been in a strep-throat "special place" coma, coming in and out of rational thought. I like to think it's something like a peyote-induced hero's journey, where I've learned something significant about life and the journey of eternity. I know nothing of the peyote, which will surprise noone, but I once took a Native American literature class that I quite enjoyed, and we read a lot of books, although the only thing I clearly remember was that Star Wars is a classic example of the Native American hero's journey. That bit of information both impressed me (wow, we're we really are all connected. . .) and disappointed me (you mean it wasn't an entirely original. . . story. . .? George. . . ?) That, and we got to give ourselves our grade at the end of the semester. That was particularly difficult for an overachiever with serious issues with guilt. But that's a topic for another day. And one more important detail: my teacher had a white, round non-Native American face and wore plenty of turqouis and blue eye shadow. Come to think of it, I had TWO English professors who fit that description. . .

So you can see that I'm an expert in all things Native American.

I'd like to share my relationship with my neighbors who are, technically Native CANADIANS, not Americans, but have lived in Provo for almost 3 generations. They have different "teens" from their tribe come and stay with them to go to school in America, and they have "a band" which consists of several different kinds of drums and chanting. I know that some could accuse me of being overly dramatic to emphasize comedic elements in my life (Tina), but I want to assure you that the following are true, accurate accounts of the facts. I will try to dress them down in the dullest flesh-toned twin set I can find. Keep in mind that Topher and I have had face-to-face conversations with our neighbors on several occassions. Whenever we see them we say Hi and wave, and that their youngest children have been inside our home several, several times to play. These are most of my encounters with my next door neighbors, Ralph and Yvonne.

1. When we went to look at the house that we now live in, Ralph (older Native Canadian with long dark hair pulled back, stern expression on his face) came up to us, we said hello, introduced ourselves and said we were considering buying the place. His only response: "You guys aren't from California, are you?" I replied no, and he walked off. scene.

2. A few weeks after we moved in, I introduced myself to Yvonne, and asked "So, how are you?" she replied,"Yeah, so we need all sorts of stuff--anything you want to give--like laundry soap, dish soap, and soap."

3. Ralph goes on long walks down the middle of the road and when you say hi, he pretends not to hear, even if you say it really loudly (Topher has experimented on many different levels of volume).

4. Ralph came over to borrow some laundry detergent. When I returned with it he looked inside the cup and said, "liquid?" and walked off. This has actually happened twice.

5. Ralph came over at 10:30 pm in the pouring rain to borrow an umbrella.

6. Ralph came over to borrow a red pen in the middle of the day. I gave it to him, he crossed something off on a list he had in his hand and handed me back the pen. I told him to keep it.

7. One day Topher came home, got out of his car and tried to make small talk (yet again), he said, "Looks like you're moving someone out! Who's moving?" Ralph looked and stared at him, Topher repeated, Ralph stared, Then, after some time Ralph said, "You live there?" pointing to our house. "Yeah.. ." Topher replied and Ralph said,"Oh. .. I thought some young guy lived there." then turned around and walked inside his house. We had lived in the neighborhood for a year and a half. (That was the day Topher double-clapped Ralph.)

8. Ralph came to borrow the phone (one of 12 times) and turned back as he was leaving (wha-wha-wha-what? I thought) and said, "Your husband. . . is he into computers?" I told him, no and explained in two sentences what he "does," and he ended with, ". .. He's kinda . . . an . . . eccentric guy, isn't he?" I laughed and he walked off. (Christopher, upon hearing the story, yelled, "Since when is RALPH the barometer of eccentricity?!!?!?!")

9. For no "reason," Ralph came over and had some how found out my brother's band "did well," and told me his band was cutting a CD, too. I wished him well. (We actually don't mind hearing the drums. It's no so loud and it's got a good rhythm to it.) It occurs to me on this occassion that he always calls me, "neighbor," when I call him by his first name. He has no idea what my name is. Christopher considers going up to their front door and offering them one million dollars if they can name one of us, or one of our kids.

10. Yvonne has just started coming to our ward, and is incharge of Primary birthdays. Last Sunday she looked around and said, "Who's Bro. Clark?" I laughed out loud and told her he was gone. We've been next door neighbors for two years now.

I guess I'll end on #10 because it seems appropriate. They are actually good neighbors, all things considered. Right? You don't have to be best friends with everyone in your neighborhood, right? I don't have anymore clarity thanks to night after night of 10 hours of sleep, but I'm still on my meds so I suppose there's still time to have a vision of clarity to make sense of all this.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Just Enjoy It

My husband, Topher, has been out of town for a while and the kids and I have been "hanging out." By "hanging out" I mean doing fun, physically exhausting things during the day, and then putting them to bed early. We go swimming, go to the park, ride bikes, go to the library (okay, maybe they're not ALL physically exhausting, but have you ever taken 4 kids to the library? 1. it isn't quiet 2. sometimes things get ugly) I think I handle it pretty well; I scream and yell rarely, but only when necessary--for dramatic effect. I'm not Mary Poppins, although I do break into song throughout the day, but I'm no Sherry Bobbins (Simpson's anyone? anyone?)

So on Sunday, as I took all four children to church solo, I had realistic expectations. I brought crayons and books and gave the children a sit-down lecture and warning before church. All in all they were "good" (about a 7.3 on a 10 point scale). It was hard carrying in the diaperbag, activity bag, and infant, all the while trying to grab Phoebe's hand as she ran up the aisle, missing our stopping point, and whisper loudly trying to get Owen off the floor after one of his dramatic "opps I fell on accident--or. . . did. .. I. . .?" performances. Miles was no help, he gets his gaze fixed on someone or something, ideas start swarming around in his head and he forgets where he is or what he's doing and bumps into one of the pews. As we get settled Hugh starts screaming and I have to make a break for it. I motion to one of my friends to sit with my kids (all her's are grown and gone) and I go feed Hugh. It's a great set-up: that mother's lounge. I sit back and nurse in a soft recliner, listen to the speakers uninterrupted and can even close my eyes with no fear of offending anyone. It's a great deal and I only feel a little guilty about sticking my friend with my kids. She's the Relief Society President so it's like her job, right? Besides, Hugh is the only baby under a year in our ward--so he's got that great novelty factor. Anyway, I come back a few blissful, quiet minutes later and sit with my kids. I even think I was smiling. No, I'm sure I was. This fact will become more important as this THRILLING story continues.

Sacrament Meeting is over and I'm gathering shredded pieces of the program, broken crayons, and various items from Owen's pocket off the floor, grabbing my bags with Hugh over my shoulder. As I'm writing this, I'm even a little impressed with the feat, when this well-groomed woman with grey-white mom hair, a conservative red dress that buttons in the front, comes up to me and says, "I just wanted to tell you that I had EIGHT children." She paused with a smirk on her face that suggested that it was now the appropriate time for me to compliment her with something like, "Oh WOW! That's a lot!" or "Oh, how DID you DO it?" or "Oh I am just in AWE!" but I was too busy for that and I hate telling people what they want to hear. I just raised my eyebrows which could be interpreted as, "OH. . . " or "And. . . " without sounding as rude as it would if I had said anything. As Topher can attest, I'm not so good at hiding the sarcasm in my voice. Cause where I come from, when you meet someone for the first time, you usually open with a. a greeting or b. an introduction. I thought that she was just really proud of herself and her birthing eight children that she just couldn't keep it in any longer, and that would be that. I was wrong. She was very earnest and leaned in and told me, "I was watching you during Sacrament Meeting, (interpret: CREEPY) and I just wanted to tell you, JUST ENJOY IT." and she walked away with satisfaction oozing out of her--as if she were going to run home and write in her journal about how she had helped this poor, young mother.

Here's why I hate her:

Okay, not her as a person, but as an idea/stereotype/situation, whatever--or like my mother taught me, "I don't hate her, just what she does." Here's why I loathe said thingy;

First of all, it's really, really presumptuous. She's assuming that I was really stressed out and hating motherhood. Like I was having one of those "what does it all mean" moments. Which I wasn't. She obviously doesn't know me, but worse than that she assumes that everyone is like her, or is like she was. But can I go up to her and say, "Just enjoy home without your kids. You didn't really appreciate it when you had it, but it's too late." Can you imagine if I said that? I will tell you I can.

Second of all, she really thought it was appropriate to serve me a hot plate of unsolicited advice with a generous dollop of judgement on top. Not only did I not ask for her advice, I don't even KNOW her, and she's assuming I'm a stressed out mom. Well if I wasn't feeling crappy, thanks for nudging me in that direction.

Third, I know all about enjoying every moment. I'm an extremely emotional person who cries on the first day of anything and everything and I constantly worry about capturing every moment and all of that so the last thing I need is a helpful, neighborly reminder. I'm out of control when it comes to all of that, and I do the double-guessing yourself, guilt thing really, really well.

Fourth (I'll stop after this one, I promise), I hate the idea by these women like Ms. Enjoy that doesn't suggest, but INSISTS that the more kids you have, the better mother you are. Cause, really? It was her first, and only, point of command: I have eight children so listen to my words of enlightenment. Obviously birthing does not equal raising. I've seen plenty of really good mothers and they don't have a number in common, but I won't go on because this is a blog about a crazy woman, not how to be a good mom.

This incident reminds me of a conversation that I had with a woman in my ward a few months ago when I was 8 months pregnant. I was bloated, fat, had a sharp pain in my back, I was tired,-- the whole glowing miracle that was me. This woman came up to me and said,

"I loved EVERY MINUTE of being pregnant. I never felt better or more beautiful."

"EVERY minute?" I replied.

"Oh yes! It was the best time of my life. I never felt better."

"Then you've forgotten." I don't hide my scepticism. The hormones have taken over and there's no filter.

"OH NO!" she insists.

"Then you're lying. I don't believe you for one minute."

(she shakes her head.)

"You're lying. You're a liar or you don't remember." I just called her a liar and I don't care. Topher runs out of the room.

"Oh, no, I felt so alive and grea. . ."

I cut her off. I have no time for this. I tell her: "You see, this information is no good to me now. I have pretty good pregnancies--I really do--I've heard horror stories and I'm grateful I have good pregnancies, but lets not turn it into something it's not. It's really, really hard and I'm really, really uncomfortable." I hope my honesty has touched her.

"Well. . ." I imagine she's considering my plea to tell the truth--to free me from the guilt that somehow I"m not graceful enough to enjoy every moment of the miracle of life, but instead I hear a deafening, ". . .no, it's not hard."

My friend, Katie, who is pregnant with her fifth, said I should really take her advice and "just enjoy it" : Your washing machine broke? Just enjoy washing your clothes by hand! Oh, you have cancer? just enjoy the chemo! Your husband's leaving you? Just enjoy the time you have for yourself now! You can see how this game can get a little out of control, can't you? (Katie and I did) It dawns on my that this "I love being pregnant" woman ALSO had eight children. (Katie promised me to have 7 OR 9) Coincidence? I'm chewing on the possibilities.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My sister

One of my sisters commented that she had read my blog, that it was "alright. . . kinda funny," and with a glance that is both glaring and sinister--like she's dying to say something she KNOWS I won't like, but she wants me to ask for it first-- said, very nonchallantly and calmly, "But I didn't want to post a comment or say anything. . . " I waited, suspecting the inevitable, stared back, knowing she had something to say, but making a point not to ask for it, so I wait for it. . . wait. . . for . . . it. . . "but I'm SO GLAD you FINALLY got all that out and written down about Debra Norville because I'm SICK of hearing about it!" She exploded, her voice getting louder and her face getting increasingly animated, "You guys go on and on about her (when?) and how she's a man or something (did I say that?) and you talk about it all the time and now we can be DONE WITH IT! Cause you've got it WRITTEN DOWN. . ." she trails off, her wide eyes return to their suspicious slits and she quietly says, "What? I don't mean to be rude. . . " and she smiles her pearly whitestrips smile. The smile I've seen her practice in the mirror a hundred times for family photos.

I have a younger sister named "Tina" (names have been changed to protect identities) who is both my closest friend as well as my personal nemesis. When I told her I was going to write a blog about her just so she would post something, she was both flattered and suspicious.

It's not easy being Tina. As the literal middle child of 5 kids, Tina fought for her own identity, and has come out the stronger for it. She is by far the most confident, self-assured, physically strong member of our family. While the rest of us wear jeans and t-shirts and talk about concerts we've been to, Tina wears twin sets and trains for marathons. She self-admittedly started dressing like a 40 year-old mom by the time she was 12, and lettered in football in high school (she was the manager, but still. . .). She majored in Athletic Training in college, and in a family of all nonathletes, she is the true revolutionary. She also decided to get married at the tender age of 19. I know that's no big deal for a lot of Mormon families, but for our family this was a really big deal. Our parents had taught us to finish college first. We had grown up on lessons about how our parents had been engaged for years so that our mother could finish college first--this was part of our legacy. Then Tina goes and announces her engagement, sans talking to the parents about it first. Well, Tina says she did talk to them, but they wanted her to wait, but she didn't see that it was their decision. Are you catching the flavor of the situation? Tina does what Tina wants and when we, to this day, talk about her being the "teenage bride," she reminds us all that she did indeed finish college like she said she would AND cost my parents the least amount of money to raise than any of the other kids (I come in at a close second). That earns her big points in the Valentine household because we're all a bunch of cheap-os.

And lets talk about the announcement: Tina decided to announce her engagement at MY wedding reception. She and her boyfriend were to welcome the guests into MY reception, and instead Tina and her FIANCE welcomed everyone in with the flash of her ring. My dad egged me on and kept whispering to me with his sly smile, "Are you going to let her get away with that?" So on her wedding day when I ACCIDENTALLY pulled off her veil as we were taking a family picture outside the temple, everyone assumed I had been planning it for months. My dad yelled, "I knew you'd do something to get her back!" laughing as if he had orchestrated the entire plot. I stand by my original story: it was an accident. A fortunate, funny, accident.

Tina's great when you need to know the truth. DO my thighs really look big in these pants? SHOULD we really refinance our home? These are great questions to ask TIna. She will give you the truth on a platter. No frills, no dressing it up to look pretty. Just consise honesty. Everyone needs a close friend like Tina.

Nemesis: the Greek goddess of retributive justice. Tina doesn't forget anything. And while that's handy when you lose your car keys or can't remember when your Aunt's birthday is, it's inconvienient when you embarrass yourself. I have about 7 really, really good "Tina Stories" I like to retell to my 2 brothers and sister on holidays, and close friends who have grown up with Tina whenever the conversation gets dull. They involve names and lifting really heavy things. I won't publish these stories because Tina's got some really good stuff on me too and girlfriend, I don't wanna go there.

Tina's nothing if not resourceful. One day Tina decided to make a quilt. She didn't know how to. Nobody taught her. She just taught herself how to do it. And you should see these quilts. She makes one for each one of my babies--they are incredible. When people ask me if they could pay her to make her one she says, "No. I don't want to do that." None of the usual guilt or peer-pressure to do a favor for a friend, she just won't allow herself to play that game. On the third of July, while the rest of us are watching tv, Tina whipped up two incredible store-bought worthy skirts for her two little girls out of scraps of fabric she had lying around. "It's no big deal," she tells me, "it didn't take very long." This, she says, as she hands me a decorative fourth of july headband she's made for my daughter. She's always trying to get me to can applesauce. My family doesn't like applesause, I tell her. "So what! It's really good and you can save a lot of money. Well, not a lot of money once you figure everything in, but you can still get the apples for almost free." Who can argue with logic like that?

Tina loves Dr. Laura, running, quilting, eating ice cream and treats in enormous quantities, picking at stuff, shopping for a bargain, and reading. Sometimes I worry that Tina will loose her incredible independence and individuality living in a planned community with Stepfordian-like qualities, but she assures me that she'll never name her kid McKenzie, but a boat just 'cause, or get fake boobs. "They'd get in my way" she says nonchallantly. And I believe her, I mean, she DID finish college.

But the most interesting thing about Tina is that she's always wanted to be famous. "I don't care what for--quilting, a talk show, singing, whatever, I just want my 15 minutes! I would use if for good, too." And so I'm trying to make that dream come true for Tina, in my small way. Lets hear it for TINA!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"The News"

Who doesn't love the news? I love the end of the day when Christopher and I cuddle up close, and watch Debra Norville report the day's happenings. It's always a little alarming to think of what I might have missed had I just stuck to FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN, or the Drudge Report. For those of you who miss Inside Edition, lemme give you the rundown.

First of all, Topher and I are always a little suspicious about Debbie's adam apple. I don't like going around starting internet rumors, but it has been a hot topic around the Clark Family. She's a beautiful gal, but we do see her bop-bop-boppin' along as she exposes the horrors of fast-food kitchens, plastic surgery gone wrong, or a good old-fashioned kitten stuck in a tree.

Which leads me to my next topic: Debbie's hard-hitting journalism. I don't know if any of you know this, but Debra's willing to do just about anything to get the scoop. My favorite story of all time is when Ms. Norville went inside a female prison for three whole days. We were with her as they confiscated her personal possessions and forced her (with her prior consent, of course) to wear an unflattering jumpsuit. We were there, with nightvision, as she tossed and turned on her lumpy mattress with NO PILLOW night after night. We were there with her as a guard told her she "missed a spot" while mopping; we felt her fear as she, too, jumped in fright at the comment. We were there when, seconds after the "prison mopping incident," she interviewed the guard as to why she made such a comment. We were there when the guard said, "Well, you missed a spot." And, finally, we were there when she saw the light of day and booked it on down to the nearest Wendy's. That's when I knew we were kindred spirits, because that's just what I did when I made it onto American soil after a year in England: I went right on over to Wendy's for a #1 with cheese, no pickle. Now we're connected for life.

Debbie used to be on the Today show, for like a week, and she got really bad ratings because everyone missed the old blonde reporting the news, so they kicked her off and Inside Edition's been her bread and butter ever since. I feel kind of sorry for her because that must have been embarrassing. I mean, how do they explain to you that you're not the right blonde to report the news because the American people liked the last blonde, who left of her own decision, more than you? It's a tough ratings-minded world out there and I just want to show my support to Debra EVEN THOUGH she messes up all the time and never reshoots. I'm always screaming at the tv, "It's not LIVE TV, Debra! Do another take! It won't kill you!" She messes up all the time, even on a 2 sentence intro, and she won't redo it. It kills me! I can just see her rolling her eyes between takes, taking a drag of her ciggy with the make-up lady, saying, "Well, it's not like it's the friggin' TODAY SHOW!" (Debbie wouldn't swear) Which makes me feel bad for the adam's apple remark. Just ignore that.

One thing Inside Edition does that bothers me and Topher to no end is that they recycle stories. They'll have a new story about a lip-gloss that makes you lose weight or a kangaroo who walks on stilts, and they'll try to sneak in a story we've already seen about a car who drove itself on a wild police chase. They must think we don't watch every night, or don't watch closely which goes to show that Debra is, once again, underestimating her audience.

So if you're up late at night and you've been out of touch with the world, click on over to Inside Edition, channel 4, 11:30ish/12 ish some nights (it's right after Access Hollywood), and watch Debra Norville, she could really use the support.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Who do you think you are?

We've just returned from our much awaited, much anticipated family vacation. Let me first start out by saying, for the record, that I'm under no delusion that there is such thing as a "vacation," in the traditional sense, for parents who take their children on a trip. This was a vacation for the kids, I fully admit that. I have a dream that one day Topher and I will go back to New York for a proper vacation (which consists of sleeping for the first two days). But that's after babies have been weaned and the ban my children have from going to Grandma and Grandpa Valentine's house has been lifted (they're still on probation, time suspended for good behavior). I think Christopher, although a very good sport, still held on to a little bit of the dream, manifested in that novel he packed and the ipod he brought along. But it's good to have a dream.

Growing up, in Lincoln, Nebraska, our family "vacation" was coming to Utah. That 16 hour drive, interrupted by one luxurious night at the Cheyenne, Wyoming Holiday Inn, was the vacation we came to expect every year. Don't get me wrong, we loved coming to visit our cousins-complete with sleepovers and slurpees. And most importantly: no one had a trampoline in Nebraska. My brothers and sisters and I would hear about our friends' families going to Hawaii to surf or to Vail to ski, but that wasn't who we, the Valentine's, were. We ate carrot sticks and sandwiches in the wood-panel station wagon, and we took great pride in that. (As an adult, I"m not so sure why, but I still hang onto it.) We weren't deprived or anything, I mean, we went to Disneyworld once, when I was 12, but my mom made all seven of us matching shirts (in different colors--I was teal), so we learned there was a price for everything.

So growing up with my no-frills summer vacations, who do I think I am going to the front of the line at every ride at Disneyland? I loved it, don't get me wrong-- it was the only way to do Disneyland with small, small children, but I felt extremely guilty about it, darting my eyes down everytime we rushed ahead, following Golda, our VIP guide, to the front of the line while she explained boldly to the ride operator that she had an important guest with her and could we, please (she was extremely polite--I'm sure there's special training for that and Disneyland, but it creeps me out to think about it for very long), go on the ride this very minute? I was stung when audible whispers floated above us, because I imagined they were wondering which one of my children had cancer. But no, we went with my brother, the rock star, who said that fame is fleeting and we might as well use it while we can, because he won't always have it, and that made sense to me, so although I felt guilty about it, I fully took advantage of my brother's fame. I'm such a Gemini.

The universe is balanced, and we did blow a tire in Cedar City, and this somehow made me feel better about getting free stuff. We did have to buy a tire, afterall. We suffered. But then again, while we were lifted up on the bed of a tow-truck, kids still buckled in, Miles, our oldest, yelled, "This is the best vacation ever! We're taller than everyone!" and that was before the beach and Disneyland. I guess we could have packed the minivan with carrot sticks and driven three miles and called it good.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My First Blog

It's my first blog, so you can understand my anxiety. It seemed like a simple task (setting up a blog), but right away my first three "clever" titles were taken (imagine my horror) and I quickly came to understand that this was serious business. I had mistakenly approached this creation with whimsical fancy, and I was punished for it. I can see that now. Apparently this "blogging" has been going on for a long time, and I am, once again, technologically in the dark ages. To illustrate this fact, I will reveal something personal and embarassing (it's the least I can do to reel you, the reader, in): I don't have a cell phone. But I don't want to bore my reader/s (hi honey!) with my apprehension and doubt. I will go forward and write with no more apologies or explanations of sleep deprivation (I have a newborn--doh, I just did it--oh, judy!)

I think it's important to first explain the above mentioned title, "oh, judy!" What were my other, more clever ideas, you ask? "My funny valentine"('cause my maiden name is Valentine--get it? I didn't say it was REALLY clever): taken, " sweet, comic valentine" (you get where I was going with this, huh?): taken, and "on any other day" (which is a police song): taken. I was just about to give up when "oh, judy!" popped into my head. It's an expression some friends and I use to refer to someone who does something so ridiculous, yet so tailored and predictable to their personality. Example: it's 11 p.m, Christmas Eve and you're buying batteries for your kids' toys. You bump into an old friend (Judy), who you haven't seen for over a year, buying milk. You small talk, each explaining why you haven't kept in touch, but have meant to. You end the interaction with "Merry Christmas!" and (Judy) replies, "Oh, Yeah. . . I guess it is Christmas. . . I completely forgot!" Oh, judy! An alternative expression on the same line: "that's so raven!" (a reference to the Disney hit show "That's So Raven!" starring the little girl from the Cosby Show. Apparently she has psychic powers and does OUTRAGEOUS things. Antics. When she does one of these things. . . say, falls into a vat of pudding JUST as her prom date arrives, you say, "That's SO Raven!")

So that's my first blog. I'm tempted to rewrite it, overanalyze it and deconstruct it in how it represents me, but I'll just do that in my head. . . oh, judy!