Wednesday, November 30, 2005

'Tis the season to read Holly

I saw a website today ( that belongs to a woman whose brain has been damaged by epileptic seizures. Her name is Holly, and she woke up one morning with no visual memory. She can remember voices and mannerisms, but as soon as someone leaves her field of vision she can’t recognize them – not even her closest friends or family members.

Her sense of humor and unique outlook on life has put a spin on her situation that is really interesting. I love that she admits she has not come to terms with her condition, but she is still living the life she wants to live.

Hmmm. How many of us can say that?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Hold your weenie comments on the vehicle accident in my last post being part of my great day.

I’m a reporter.  Nobody died.  I don’t delight in other people’s tragedy, I just write about it.

Back in the saddle

I had a great day today. I got to see almost all of my guys; lunch with my favorite CPD detective and some of the LCSO crew; road trip w/ another favorite; and a vehicle accident w/TVFD and the troopers (miss you, HB).

All I need now is a frickin’ digital camera and I’ll feel human again!

Note to self: never get arrested without any clothes on. (Thanks for the heads-up on that one, TY)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Vegas showgirl is out of the question, pretty much

I think I’m going to have to figure out what I want to be when I grow up – soon.

I’m surrounded by people who already know. They’ve found their niche. They’re settled in jobs they do well, jobs they love. Do they realize how lucky they are?

There are those who have careers others have picked out for them. I’m not sure why that is; I wish people wouldn’t do that. It not only screws up the person pressured to do what they don’t really want to, it screws up the ones around them who like what they’re doing.

My old nemesis, the bad editor, was like that. The first day I met her, she said the only reason she’d gotten a degree in journalism was because her mother picked it out for her. That is truly crappy. She is not good at it and her incompetence screwed me out of a job. I’m sure there is something in the world she would be really good at, something she’d be happy doing.

Now, if I could just figure out what that would be for me.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pain, thy name is gluttony

Ok.  Can someone please tell me why I do this every year?  I spent hours in the kitchen today.  Hours.  It wasn’t bad.  I had beer, good music.  But was it worth sitting down for 15 minutes to eat way more food than any human being should consume at one time?

Somehow I don’t think this is what the pilgrims had in mind...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey trouble

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love turkey, I love pie. I love all the eating and napping and playing Monopoly.

The family thing can be stressful, though. It was Thanksgiving last year at my mother’s house that I started smoking again. After I began drinking beer at 10:30 in the morning.

I brine my turkey. Brining requires that you soak your bird (that is not a euphemism, ya pervs) in a salt and sugar water solution for 18 to 20 hours. It produces a very tender, delicious end result. I’ve done it a few years now and it’s always turned out great.

Well, after a long morning of exasperation in the kitchen, my mother decided I was not doing it right. She thought it needed salt. Never mind that the thing had been soaking in salt water for 24 hours, or that I had done this a time or two before. It needed salt. She can’t stand a turkey that’s not salted enough.

I popped a beer and salted the frickin’ turkey. Then I had a smoke. Then I popped another beer.

Four and a half hours later we pulled a beautiful, golden brown, perfectly roasted bird out of the oven. The smell was orgasmic. The dressing and gravy made from the drippings looked like something out of a magazine.

I noticed there was a problem as soon as I sat down. Everyone started getting refills on their drinks and saying things like, “It’s not so bad if you eat it with the mashed potatoes.” I took a bite. At first it was normal, juicy. Then the salt hit me right between the eyes. It was a shock. So I tried to get a bite of something else, the dressing, to get the taste out of my mouth. Mistake.

The whole meal was so salty we couldn’t get enough to drink for three days. Everybody was so swollen from sodium overload we looked like a bunch of prize fighters. It turned us off of turkey for a year. We had pork roast for Christmas.

My turkey is soaking in brine even as I write this. I’ll have it in the oven before my mom gets here. There’s plenty of beer in the fridge. I’m so thankful.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Autumn driving

I spent hours in my Explorer today, driving country roads. It was the perfect day for it. Crisp and cool. The sky was a clear blue it can only be this time of year. I was alone, but not lonely.

Years ago, I drove by myself from Los Angeles to San Diego on a day just like today. I was young, naïve, in love, and awestruck by the beauty of the area. I’d never been out of Texas before and had never been particularly adventurous. Yet there I was, driving down the coast of California on a cloudless, sparkling day. It seemed surreal then, and it still does.

The love didn’t last, but the memory has.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The check is in the mail

I have made the art of procrastination my life’s work.  And it is an art.  

Many people have tried and failed to reach the level of “never do today what you can put off ‘til tomorrow” that I have achieved.  But not everyone is cut out for the life of a chronic foot dragger.  It comes as naturally to me as breathing.  I have the laundry and unpaid utility bills to prove it.

Do what you know, right?

Time is a concept I’ve never really grasped.  Everything takes longer than I think it will; the later I get, the slower my feet move.  And it’s not just passive aggressive behavior, all you therapists out there.  It’s who I am.

My family loves to entertain; we throw great parties and barbecues.  Traditionally, friends and family know that if we say we’re going to eat at two, it’s ok to show up at three.  It’s a rhythm of life.  Never mess with the rhythm, man.

Once, tired of all the disparaging remarks and endless late jokes, I decided to make a change.  Punctuality was going to be my new way of life.  It did not work.

We ran out of clothes hangers because for the first time ever all of our clothes were clean at once; my kids were getting to school too early because we were actually leaving when we were supposed to; I began having everything ready on time when we entertained, but nobody would show up for hours.  The food got cold, the drinks got warm, and confusion ruled the day.  I’d messed with the rhythm.

These days, I never fight my propensity for delay.  I own it; I live it.  I am one with the universe of deferment.

Now if I could only find a clean pair of socks…

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Women drivers, go figure

When I was about seven years old, my parents took my sister and me to ride go-carts for the first time. It scared the crap out me and very nearly cost a man his life.

Loud noises terrified me when I was a kid. This was loud times a thousand. Gas fumes choked me; I sat in a completely alien machine, had no idea how to operate it, and it seemed like 50 people were waiting for me to take off. I panicked.

My foot hit the gas peddle and I swerved out onto the course like a bat out of hell. I don’t know how I did it, but I maneuvered those turns, balls to the wall, gas pedal floored the entire time. My seven year old brain was convinced that if the go-cart hit the tires lining the track I would either explode in a ball of flame or be embarrassed in front of everybody, and it was a toss-up which would be worse.

Somehow, I didn’t crash. I made it around every lap; my knuckles were white and my body was clenched so tightly I could have produced a diamond from a lump of coal between my butt cheeks, but I hadn’t died yet, so that was good. And then I saw the red light.

All the other riders had pulled back into the pit. I could see the pit guy yelling something at me as I passed him. And I realized I was going to have to stop. But I didn’t know how.

The guy was pretty cool about it until I sped past him the second time. I think he realized we had a problem then, because he started running after me. By the third pass, he was yelling words a seven year-old should never hear and he quit chasing me. When I rounded that corner again, he was just standing there. In the middle of the track. Dead straight ahead

I saw him, and he saw me, and he didn’t move. I can still remember his eyes as I raced toward him. They were determined, a little pissed off, confident. But the closer I got, the wider they got. I wondered what it was going to feel like to run a man over, and I didn’t slow down. The go-cart barreled toward him. At the last minute he squealed and jumped out of the way. It made me jerk my foot off the pedal and I realized the thing would stop as long as I didn’t press the gas.

There was no bloodshed that day, but I think he’ll always remember the skinny little blonde girl who nearly ran him over.

I took my five year-old daughter go-cart riding last night. I wasn’t scared this time, but she was a little nervous. I buckled her in, sat behind the wheel next to her and told her there was nothing to worry about. Gas fumes perfumed the air, I knew how to handle the machine, and it didn’t matter who was waiting for us to take off.

We had a great time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree...

My teenaged son is sporting a mighty fine goose egg on his forehead today.  And I know I shouldn’t enjoy it so much, but I just am.  

He was running out of school this afternoon and slammed full-on into a locked door. Poor baby; kismet will come around to bite you on the butt every once in a while.  

This is the kid who has been the grit in my sandpaper since he was two years old.  Somebody stole my sweet, cuddly baby boy, replaced him with this hooligan, and he and I have clashed ever since.  I also love him so much it hurts.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not funny that he ran into a door.  As much crap as he’s put me through, he’s lucky he didn’t get struck by lightning.

Like so many teenagers, my son is operating on a brain deficiency caused by rampant hormone fluctuations and chronic Know-it-all-itis combined with You-owe-me-osis.  He is convinced that attending school 30% of the semester should be sufficient to pass, attending school without any kind of supplies such as a notebook or pen is not only acceptable but desirable, and that his teachers won’t mind if he’s late to every class.  Also, sleeping all day has nothing to do with his insomnia.

I have punished, rewarded, argued, pleaded and lectured.  The only thing that’s worked – and it’s only beginning to – has been time.  Maturing time.  He’s almost 19, thank heavens.  Maybe I won’t have to kill him.

Meanwhile, I got to enjoy the lump on his head today, even if I didn’t get to put it there myself.

P.S. To all my delightful Trooper pals - especially you, HB - I was just kidding about the speeding thing in yesterday’s post.  I would NEVER do that…

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I still carry fresh batteries at all times...

Someone pointed out to me today that I only write about the bad experiences I had at my last job. That’s pretty unfair of me, because it was the good stuff that got me hooked on being a reporter. And it is an addiction, trust me.

At first, it took me a while to realize I was getting paid for writing. Every payday caught me by surprise because I was just doing what I always do. I’d think – wow, I get paid for this gig? Cool. That lasted about five minutes. Then it was – wow, I’m getting paid for this gig and I still don’t have any money. Not cool.

But, I digress…

The fun part was getting a lead, jumping in my Explorer, cranking up the radio, and speeding without getting caught. I had an intimate relationship with the paper’s digital camera and if I could have gotten my scanner to vibrate, life would have been perfect. When I got to the scene it was time to work. I had to gauge the emergency personnel, hang back and take a few shots, eavesdrop enough to figure out who to talk to first, try to put people at ease.

Reporters are not the most popular people at breaking news scenes. Or anywhere, actually – unless somebody wants publicity. We have to deal with all the crap that has gone on before us in the name of journalism. Everyone from city hall to law enforcement to firefighters to EMS workers has had bad experiences with the press, and we pay for it. We’re like the town whore. Everyone wants to get some, but they don’t want to be seen in bed with us.

But, I digress again…

I figured out really quickly that I should have paid more attention in my high school government class. It took forever just to get my law enforcement straight. State troopers, sheriff’s deputies, constables, deputy constables, local police, holy crap! I was just starting to get my feet wet with commissioner’s court, judges, county attorneys, district attorneys, etc., when I quit. It was interesting, but I experienced brain overload on more than one occasion. TMI!

And I would just like to take a moment right now to address the firefighters – Cleveland, Tarkington, you know who you are. Whoever started that crap about anytime a firefighter gets his picture in the paper he has to buy ice cream for the entire department is the devil! All I had to do in Cleveland was walk in the station and you guys scattered like cockroaches in the sunlight. That’s why I bought your cake, Paul. At least Tarkington cut me a break every once in a while.

Anyway, all that to say this: I do love reporting. It is rewarding and frustrating and hard. And I don’t think Walmart could live up to that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Martha Stewart has nothing to worry about from me...

I went to my almost 8 year-old son’s Thanksgiving play tonight. I’ve been so distracted lately that I completely missed the month of October, and now Thanksgiving will be here next week. Holy crap. What happened to August?

I’m always amazed by my kids’ teachers, and so grateful. They put an incredible amount of time and effort into things that make me crazy. Sewing, painting, practices, dealing with a load of second graders and their distracted parents. Amazing.

I feel the same way about PTA moms. They are so ultra-efficient and into school functions. I quit trying to be one years ago; it’s not me. I am a good mom, I read to my kids every night, I cuddle and I play, but I am no PTA mom.

I saw one getting into her car the other day at Walmart. She had perfect, smoothly coiffed hair and was wearing a sensible skirt and shoes. The groceries in her cart were organized. She quickly and efficiently loaded them and returned her cart to the proper slot. I was pulling into a parking space with the Red Hot Chili Peppers blaring, wearing low-rise levis and slingbacks, a frizzed-out pony tail and wooden dangle earrings. A soda can fell out when I opened my door, and I was trying to remember what I was there for because I’d forgotten to make a list.

My teenaged son was with me and I felt a twang of guilt. I asked him if he wished he had a mom like that. He looked at me and said, “No way. That would be boring.”

God sure did give me the right kids…

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's my potty...

I had a discussion with a friend today – the same friend I thought would never forgive me yesterday – go figure – and it made me realize how much power we give away.

Anytime we allow someone to dominate our thoughts and emotions through anger, resentment, grudges we refuse to let go of, past wounds that have never healed, painful conversations that roll on a continuous loop in our heads, etc., they control us in a way, don’t they?  

And we are willing participants, because we want to nurse those wrongs that are done to us.  They are our pet grievances.  We hold onto them, coddle them, take them out and share them with whoever will listen and commiserate with us; never noticing that those comforting little pets have sharp teeth, and that those sharp teeth are taking tiny little bites out of us, draining us until we are exhausted and ineffectual.

What would happen if we released them?  Just let them go?  For no other reason than that we can?

What if we quit keeping score?  What would happen if we quit trying to change other people, quit trying to sway their way of thinking, trying to get them to see things our way?

Is that natural?

It would stop the energy drain and we would be whole again.  The leaks would be plugged.  Our power would be ours again, not diluted, not scattered, but focused.

We have a choice.  The choice to let the crap go, flush the damn toilet, and live this life right now, the best way we can.  Or not.

I prefer to flush.  But that’s just me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Crying over spilt chocolate milk

You know, there comes a time in every person’s life when a mirror the size of Alaska gets held up in front of us.  The lighting is bright and unflattering, there is nothing to hide behind, there’s no makeup or clothes, and there is no escape from an honest, barebones look at who we really are.  It is never pretty.  It can be painful.  And, hopefully it happens enough for us to get the spinach out from between our teeth.  But it is unavoidable.

My mirror came today at the end of a long, self-absorbed road.  I hurt a good friend, and was oblivious to it when it happened.  I was so busy thinking about myself that I didn’t consider for an instant how my actions would affect her, or anyone else, for that matter.  

And now, I can’t fix it.  I can’t get the egg back in the shell.  All I’m left with is me, the mirror and remorse.

What do you do with that?

Live and learn.  I hate that expression.  I want to curl up and go to sleep for awhile.  It’s hard for me to venture out anyway, but when I do and then screw up, it just sends me scurrying back to my hole.

I’ll always have Walmart… maybe there’s one hiring in Alaska.

Friday, November 11, 2005

It ain't just a river in Egypt...

I went for a run tonight for the first time since I was in my 20’s.  It was not the same.  

But it got me thinking.  How can I sit on my butt all the time, eating Flaming Hot Cheetos and drinking beer, and think I’m not going to die one day of a massive coronary?  

The answer is two-fold, my friends: denial and rationalization.

Ah denial.  I know it well.  Not that silly old, boring, un-fun, SELF-denial stuff.  But the denial I have honed to a fine line of first defense against good judgment.  The denial of reality.  For example:

Reality – My belly has layers that were not there 10 years ago.
Denial – “I look better with some meat on my bones.”

Reality – I’m almost 40 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
Denial – “I have goals.  A boob job and a tummy tuck before I turn 50.”

When denial is no longer an option, (temporary sanity is bound to break through sooner or later), rationalization is there to step in and make any ridiculously wrong choice seem like the right thing to do.  

Your conscience may say, “If you eat that entire box of chocolate filled donuts, you’re going to feel like crap and hate yourself later.”  But rationalization is there to whisper in your ear, “Eat them.  It will save some other poor soul from cellulite and clogged arteries.”  Common sense may dictate that if you have that 4th tequila shot, you’re going to end up going home with Bubba, the snaggle-toothed biker.  Rationalization says, “Booze is good for you, it thins the blood.”

See what I mean?  Denial and rationalization can pretty much get you anywhere you want to go, that you’ll regret once you get there.

I’m going to go have just one more glass of wine now… It’s good for my blood.

My marine son, Zach, and his girl Danielle at the Marine Corps Ball last Wednesday night.  Posted by Picasa

The saga continues...

Well, where was I?  Oh, right, the cloud on my happy horizon.  My new editor.  

She was, and is, organized, efficient and a hard worker.  She hits deadline ahead of time, and always gets the paper out smoothly, which is not easy when the only staff reporter, me, had a tendency to turn in stories late.  She is a mediocre writer, which I can appreciate, but she is no editor.  Typos, incorrect headlines, missed article jumps, passive aggressive article assignment meetings, and lots of sighs and eye rolling directed toward me, ensued.  

I tried to duck my head and just write, but an issue of the paper came out that was so bad, it not only humiliated me, but was an embarrassment to the people who’d entrusted me with their stories and interviews.

I had to leave.  And it broke my heart.  

It felt like I was betraying my contacts and my community.  But to stay and never know how my articles were going to turn out, to never know what new embarrassing headline or misprint with my byline was going to rear its ugly head, and to work for a publisher who was fiddling while Rome burned, was intolerable.  

So, I made the break, without notice.  And I wrote a letter of resignation to the CEO that is probably not going to make a difference.  Woo-hoo…

Two days after I quit, another paper snatched me up.  I’m trying it, but I’m not sure what the future holds for me.  That Walmart gig is looking better and better…

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the beginning...

For my first post, I’d like to comment on the state of overachievement in this country… I believe it to be Washington State, but that’s just me…

I recently (three days ago) quit a job I’d held for 2 months.  It was my dream job, I thought, and a position I really wanted.  I was a reporter for my town newspaper.

When my youngest child started kindergarten this year, my days as a stay-at-home-mom were numbered.  Society today - and my husband and his family - dictates that all women should work outside of the home.  I barely hung onto being a SAHM through years of child rearing; when my daughter went to school in August, I knew I was going to have to get a job.

I am a reluctant writer.  I love to write, but never thought I could make money at it.  Still, I had everyone breathing down my neck to get a job, so I assessed my skills.  I am a good speller and I have a way of stringing a sentence together, so I decided to run by the local newspaper and see if they needed a proofreader; then I was going to try Walmart.  Surprisingly, the paper snapped me up.  Woo-Hoo…

The honeymoon lasted a few weeks.  I began running stories and making contacts.  I fell in love with the sheriff’s guys, the firemen, and the local cops.  I quickly learned how NOT to approach a law enforcement officer at work, never to wear flip-flops to a brushfire, and got a crash course in politics.  I was getting published every week and getting paid to write.  Triple Woo-Hoo…

Then, a cloud darkened my happy horizon.  My editor quit.  A new editor came in town, and she was … not my favorite.

I have to feed my kids now.   To be continued…

grainy me... Posted by Picasa