Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For (LANGUAGE WARNING)


Shit. Shit. Shit. Hell. Damn. Shit.

I've been whining pretty heavily the last few days. About the WEATHER, of all the fucking things in the world to be pissy about.

It's cold here. There's still a cubic shit-ton of snow on the ground. And I've been complaining about it. Angry, even.

I've been saying to anyone who would listen in the last 24 hours that I've been looking at cheap flights to just get the hell out of here, to anywhere with sunshine.

I even was joking with my neighbor when I saw her at the grocery store this afternoon that I'd do pretty much anything to get to somewhere warm. Anywhere.

As I was putting groceries away, the phone rang.

It was my Dad's wife.

Dad had a heart-attack at work, died twice in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and is now in surgery.

That's all we know.

And now I'm booking a flight to get to AZ.


A Short But Heartfelt Love Note

Dear Dunkin' Donuts,

Your Dunkin' Decaf makes my tongue's toes curl.

Honestly, until I met you, I had no idea my tongue even HAD toes.

I'm so glad you came along.

You warm me. You comfort me. You make me sigh deeply in contentment and promise to do crazy things like laundry, more writing and even (dare I say it?) painting the family room.

I love you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Winter Storm

Living in Fargo, you get used to the weather.

Kind of.

Blizzards in March, Mother Nature's final wintery stand, are not uncommon. I've gotten to the point of welcoming this last dumping of snow, knowing that we just need to get through the Red River's crest and all will be normal again.

This year's March blizzard was a doozy. It was nice enough to layer ice and graupel before frosting the whole thing with about eight inches of snow. Shoveling this stuff was a near-impossible task. Machinery was the only cure.

Thank God for my boys.

The BoyRD and TheBestFriend attacked our sidewalks and driveway with a snowthrower. The RD had to first break into the hard crust, followed by TheBestFriend with machinery.

From my warm roost, it looked like this :

I wish I would have thought to grab the video camera for this. The racket the snow made was, in a word, alarming.

Of course, it was no more alarming than the thought of having to go out there and kick some graupel gluteus   all by my onesy.

I know what you're thinking.

And don't worry.

I bought them pizza.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SAD much?

I've been busy.

OK, I'm a liar. I wasn't busy. For a long time. Like two months long. That's a long time when the average temperature was about 20 below, not counting windchill.

I started going to a therapist, I was so un-busy.

She took one look at me and sent my ass to a psychiatrist ... or maybe he was a psychologist. I have no clue. She just wanted to get me to someone who could diagnose any clinical bidness that was happenin'.

He said I was depressed.

No SHIT, Sherlock. 

Specifically, though, he said seasonally depressed. I nodded sagely and said, "Seasonal Affective Disorder."

No. He repeated, "Seasonally DEPRESSED."

Hmmm. OK, fine. Maybe that's the case.

Then I came home and looked through the photos I've snapped over the month prior to this appointment. Gee, Doc -- maybe you're right!

Here's what I've been up to:

I watched the Oscars with Bob. Well, I watched the Oscars. Bob took a nap. I think my
Facebook friend, Fred, said it best when he wrote, "All in all, I think the James Franco 
animatronic puppet was the best part of the show." Oh, Fred. That STILL makes me laugh.

Then I watched Craig Ferguson. In my jammies. A shocking turn of events, I know.

The BoyRD made a WalMart run. This is how he remembered  what pit stick to buy for me.
I was then forced to bathe and put on fresh jammies.

I read the new Pyschology Today in bed. I was wearing jammies then, too. There was an
article called, "Hey, Laura -- you might wanna get your ass out of bed and see some people.
We know it's as cold as the face of the moon, but really ... you gotta get out and mingle,
girl." I thought it was odd the article had such a long name, but it had some good points.

So I put on seventeen layers of clothes and drove to a meeting. It's March,
and the roads still look like this. Damned winter.

The meeting was at a restaurant. I asked for an iced tea with sweetener. They brought me
this rock candy on a stick business. I gnawed on it, giggling like a loon the whole time.
CANDY! Needless to say, it was totally worth getting out of the house. BONUS: I got
a really enjoyable freelance writing gig out of it.

Then 'Ria called and said, "Hey -- you wanna set my hair on fire?" Uh ... do I? DUH!

Something about putting 'Ria in mortal danger clicked with me. I accepted that getting
out and about here in the tundra is really a necessary part of mental health -- even
when it's cold enough for an Eskimo to say, "screw it" and go to Florida. But I digress.
The next morning, I decided to find breakfast through a window. And I saw evidence of a THAW!

It made me happy enough to try eating beets. They taste like dirt. I liked it.

The end. You may be seated.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Being Rejected (By Software)

There is nothing like having a Microsoft® product throw its hands in the air and declare in a snit, "I have NO idea what your feeble-ass mind is even TRYING to spell."

It may have something to do with the fact that I "hear" this in my head in the voice of an puffy, overly-coiffed Southern woman with perfect, judge-y teeth, who then stomps away, hair bouncing, girdle compressing everything into the very sausage-look she's been trying to avoid since adolescence, but it makes me instantly crazy.*

Angry crazy.

Crazy angry.

So much so that when faced with "no suggestions" in the spelling dialogue box, I have been known to give my monitor a double flip with a TWIST.

You know, to get the point across.

No suggestion at all? Ruh-huh-huh-eallllly, Word? HAL would have known what I'm tryin' to say here. For Gate's sake ... GOOGLE even knows what I'm trying to freaking spell!


What can I say?

Microsoft Office and I have a very complicated relationship.

* For some reason, I can also tell you this fictional spelling judge lady smells like stale coffee and years-old Emeraude. It makes me wonder if I've blocked out an angry-teacher memory.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Happy Plate

I have a plate in my cupboard that makes me smile every time I see it. Catch me on the right day, and it even has the power to make me cry. Yes, that’s right, cry. Weep. Snivel. Blubber. Bawl. Sob, even.

Odd to be connected to something as commonplace as a plate, is it?

Probably not, once you know the story.

I've had a connection to our local March of Dimes "Bowls for Babies" event in one way or another over the last five years or so.

It started when I worked at a local ad agency and met a woman who would become one of my very best friends. She worked on the account team, and I was a production manager. We worked closely on many, many projects for her clients. One was—you guessed it—the local March of Dimes.

That first year, we were able to provide pro bono work for the Bowls for Babies event. Only ever having heard of March of Dimes through television spots, I was excited and proud to watch my team create a great logo, followed by a whole bunch of collateral for the local organization administration and then the event, itself.

I don’t know if it was fate what we would call it, but shortly thereafter, C. had her twin boys way too early*. If it weren't for the years of commitment to funding of research by the March of Dimes, they might not be with us today.

If I thought the March of Dimes was cool before, I am now a life-long fan.

My favorite fundraiser will always be Bowls for Babies.

Local artists, art-students and a whole lot of "regular" people paint bowls and plates or mugs to be used at a soup-luncheon fundraiser. Individuals and businesses purchase "raw" bisque for a small fee (which I believe in part becomes a donation,) and a local paint-your-own-bisque shop owner donates her time firing the finished pieces. Then local gourmet chefs pull out all of their soup and bread stops, donating time, resources and unspeakable deliciousness to the event. Participants make a donation at the door and are granted entry. Once inside, they peruse the unique and often entertaining tableware to take home before enjoying a fresh, hot lunch and a whole lot o’ visitin’. 

Two years ago, I attended my first Bowls for Babies event here in Fargo. Appropriately, I did so with C. There must have been close to 1000 bowls and plates to choose from.

Hundreds and hundreds of men and women from all walks of life waited patiently to snake around the display tables, survey the fragrant offerings and find a table. Local celebrities, brand new moms, veteran fathers … everyone was there. (And by “everyone”, I mean, “I sat next to the mayor and his wife.” HI, DENNY!)

I had a wonderful time. I got to hang out with C. I got to see a LOT of babies. I got to have lunch with the mayor.

But that was just the surface stuff.

I got to see my community in action. I got to see the faces of those who have lived real, throbbing, gut-wrenching fear … and still had a little person to hold. It made me think of those who have lost children. Of those who love someone who is no longer with us in physical form. It simultaneously lifted me up and filled me with sorrow.

So yeah, it’s a plate. It’s got a little wear and tear, as much-loved objects often will.

But it’s a plate that’s come to represent love, endurance and mostly, faith.

There are initials on the back of my favorite plate. MJ, whoever you are, thank you.  
* In early 2008, C. wrote her first-hand account of the boys’ birth and first few years of their lives for NDSU Magazine. I was the one she called to proofread it. It was perfect. Not only in its tone, grammar and punctuation, but in the gift it brought me. We had been good friends through all of those years, but seeing her words on the page made me once again realize what a blessing that woman is. Not just to me, but to her family and everyone she encounters. To read the article, please click here

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today's Lesson: The Other Woman, The Third Party and Our Accidental Perpetrator Heroine

Newsflash, people!

It turns out the lyrics to Naughty By Nature's, "Hip Hop Hooray" are, indeed, naughty.

I know—this stuns you. I, too, was all, "whu? Whu? WHUT!?"

This lyric safety announcement is brought to you by someone who may or may not have spent the last oh, I dunno ... SEVENTEEN years singing this song whenever someone uttered even the tiniest of, "hooray"'s within her hearing radius.

Until today. 

When "she" did so to another woman of about the same age who had just used the magic word in a tiny cheer of self-affirmation.

And the other woman looked HORRIFIED. 


The accidental perpetrator instantly felt ashamed. But didn't know why. And had to ask. 

And the other woman said to her, "Lau--" "Lady, do you KNOW the rest of that song or were you one of those kids who actually listened to country and just heard the 'everybody say hey, ho' part and decided it was an anthem for the gangsta ages?"

Our accidental perpetrator heroine's brain danced. It zigged. It zagged. It finally admitted the truth. 

"Uhhh. Yeah. Yeah, that's pretty much how it went down." 

(Clearly, our heroine used "went down" as her final stranglehold on the much desired "street cred" she'd heard so much about.)

It was then the third party cleared his throat.  

The third party, standing next to the other woman. 

The third party sporting a stiff, white collar. 

The third party with a BIBLE cradled in his left hand.

"Is that the "graffiti on your kitty" song?" 

Other woman rushed to answer, eyes cast to the floor.  

"It is, Father."

The third party again cleared his throat—clearly uncomfortable—and shuffled his feet as through relying on his toes to detect and point the way to the nearest exit. 

"Right then. I wouldn't sing that song to just anyone either."

So there we have it. 

Learn something from our heroine, 'k?


a) the priest knows the lyrics are dirty; and, 
b) the band's name alludes to their own bad-ativity, it's safe to assume these are not the songs you're going to want to sing to random strangers based on the use of the word, "hooray" in their vocabulary.

You're welcome.

Er ... I mean: Our heroine says, "You're welcome."

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

circa, one-meeelion years ago

A million years ago, I was a fifth grader. I sat next to Paul Miller most of the year. (HI, PAUL!) 

OK, maybe it wasn't a million years ago. 

Maybe I exaggerate.

OK, for sure I exaggerate. I graduated high school in 1991; feel free to do the math.

Our teacher's name was Mr. Capes. I want to say his first name was Ed, but that might be cloudy. Let’s face it—as a fifth grader, I just called him “Mr. Capes”.

He was my first male teacher, and I remember being a little freaked out about that.

It turned out just fine, though.

He recognized that I was a smart-ass bright child, and, save the one paddling he was forced to give me (I’m reasonably sure it involved the lobbing of an ill-timed f-bomb), we got along swimmingly. 

He figured out pretty quickly that I loved to be right, and would take advantage of this fairly often during open reading. He’d let me sit on a stool at the front of the class while he sat at his desk, presumably grading papers, as the other kids took turns reading aloud. My role was to facilitate the turn-taking and proper pronunciation of words as we worked through books like White Fang and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. That is to say, I’d give my fellow students two attempts at a word before I blurted it out for them.

Now, in my memory, I was gentle. Nurturing. Knowledgeable, but not all knowy-pants*.

I have met myself, though, and I’m pretty damn sure it didn’t go down like that … which might just explain why RoseMarie Wilder seemed to want to kill me on a regular basis.

Pretty much every day in Mr. Capes' class brought the noon ABC Radio News and the Paul Harvey Show. 

To this day, if I hear the ABC-radio brass intro, I wait to hear Mr. Harvey’s voice. (I cried when I learned he died. I was sitting in my car in a grocery store parking lot. It was raining, and tears coursed down my face as I sat there, thinking about all of the wonderful things I learned from his show and what a loss the world had just endured.) 

We’d listen to the noon news, then The Rest of The Story, and Mr. Capes would quiz us about the things we'd just heard.  (“Page three!”) Those who got the right answer the fastest got candy thrown at them. I gained a whole extra butt cheek that year.

Fifth grade brought many lessons: I learned how to properly protect an egg during a parachute drop, how to make candied apples, how to cover books in clear contact paper to protect their covers, and how to grow alfalfa sprouts in paper cups. (My fifth-grade palate was impressed when he served those sprouts on saltines atop a pillowy bed of American-flavored Easy Cheese. So fancy!)

One day, Mr. Capes went around the room, asking the class what our favorite numbers were.

I scoffed. Loudly.

I rolled my eyes as though already a teenager.

When he got to me, I refused to play. I told him I didn’t have one. He wanted to know why.

“It’s stupid. It’s like having a favorite COLOR. There’s no point. It’s not like your favorite pet. It’s not even alive!”

I can’t imagine (uh HUH) why he would have been exasperated with me at this point, but he very clearly was.

“Just PICK one!” he demanded.

Not to be forced into anything so ridiculous, I did. But on MY terms.

With a Tony-worthy sigh, another dramatic eye roll and one massive gust of an exhale, I said, “Fine. One million, four-hundred thirty-six thousand, two-hundred twelve … point eight.”

Poor Mr. Capes.

He stood there, staring at me, gaped mouth.

As an adult and a parent of a smart-ass bright child myself, I can say with a certain degree of surety that he was either a) plotting my death or b) picturing me as a cute, sweet toddler … to save himself from plotting my death.

“WHAT?” he hissed, lunging toward me a wee bit and shaking his head as if to clear any waxy build-up from his ears.

“One million, four-hundred thirty-six thousand, two-hundred twelve … point eight.”

“That’s the one? THAT’s going to be your favorite number?”


“You’re sure?”


The red in his face faded back to a non-cardiac-emergent color as he exhaled slowly through his mustached lips. His next move was brilliant—he managed to not only save face, but to challenge me, as well.

This guy had my number, after all.

“Alright then. If you can remember that number for a week, I will buy you a Tab.

A Tab? YES!

(For those of you who don’t remember Tab Cola—it was super awesome. It was dark, cold, bubbly, certainly toxic and most appealing—came in a pink can. PINK, y’all! MODELS drank from pink cans!)

I didn’t commit to a lot back then, but I committed myself to this.

Yes, you read into that properly.

A week passed, and I got my Tab Cola.

And to this day?

My favorite teacher: Mr. Capes.

My favorite drink: Iced tea, no lemon. (What? Tab was only awesome when you thought cool people drank it.)

My favorite number: 1,436,212.8

UPDATE:  All these years later, I found a jewelry maker who created a piece showcasing my favorite number in copper, my favorite metal! Come on over to 365 and check it out!

* "Knowy-pants" is a term coined by one Tammy Swift, the funniest woman I’m lucky to know. If you’re smart—and I know you are, 'cause I don't hang with no dummies—you’ll make yourself a cup of coffee, unplug the phone, ignore the kids and go read everything she’s ever written