Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Things Learned During a Junior High Power Outage.

Toilets still flush.
Students still ask to use the hall pass two minutes after the break.
Clocks with batteries still tick.
Students still ask when they can leave.
Teachers still teach.
Students still ask if we are doing anything important today.
School lunch is still served.
Students still complain.
Teachers monitor and adjust.
Students still make up silly excuses to get out of working.
Administrators still lead.
Students still whine about inconveniences they deem infringements on their rights.
Teachers still giggle.
Students still roll their eyes.
Secretaries still field calls.
Students still try to convince their parents they are being mistreated.
Parents still come to the rescue.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zombie Psychology

O.C.D. Zombies
Feed only on the cleanest
Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains.

Broca's area--
The first thing zombies destroy,
Leaving you speechless!

Phineas Gage was
A hungry zombie's nightmare.
Open skull, warm flesh.

Left handed zombies
Feast on the right hemisphere
So logically.

The Zombie Menu:
Neurotransmitters with a
Side of dendrites. Yum!

Brain thirsty zombies
Can smell your synaptic gaps
From miles away. Run!

I only have eyes
For you; they are in my purse--
Chilled, ready to eat...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Ugly Truth

Every time I show my children a picture of my 1976 kindergarten class, they inevitably point to the very cute Jayme Gilday and ask, “Is that you, Mommy?” Needless to say, they are always surprised and visibly disappointed when reminded that their mother is the girl with horn-rimmed glasses, a shampoo-n-set hairdo, and a broken shoe. “Oh, yeah,” comes their chagrined response as they examine the picture in disbelief. Then, because they are kind children, they deliberately refrain from stating the obvious—that I was an ugly child.

At this point, one might expect that as a confident adult woman I would launch into the story of the ugly duckling who becomes a beautiful swan. But that would be a gross exaggeration. I also refuse to tell my children the notorious lie that grown ups have been perpetuating for years--that looks don't matter. Why? Because it's not true. Any red-blooded American who has been half way coherent for the last century knows that in our society, whether they should or not, looks do matter. So rather than fill my children with a delusional outlook on life, I give it to them straight and let them know the truth: It sucks to go through childhood thinking you are ugly.

Now, before I tell my ugly tale, I do need to add one disclaimer. In retrospect, I would describe my childhood appearance as “goofy” more so than ugly, but let's not get hung up on euphemism. The fact of the matter is that I grew up with two extremely handsome parents and was surrounded by four siblings who were equally blessed with aesthetic appeal. Plus, none of them had to wear dorky glasses from the time they were five. And therein lies the real problem—my glasses. I don't know anyone who can feel attractive when wearing thick, dark, horn-rimmed spectacles. See what I mean? The very word spectacle connotes ridiculousness. I suppose if I were one of those 'glass half full' kind of people, I would point out that at least I only felt ugly when wearing glasses. The problem is, I had to wear them every waking hour of every day, so no matter how full the proverbial glass, this meant I felt less than beautiful every day of my childhood.

About the time I had made peace with my need for glasses, I began to realize that I had other less-than-comely physical features. One evening while eavesdropping on my parents' conversation, I heard my dad say, “Hey, Reb. Big Ears is listening.” Knowing he meant me and not realizing that he was alluding to my new-found habit of eavesdropping, I ran to the mirror in my room only to have my reflection reveal what my father had just said. Not only did my glasses make me ugly, but my ears were huge, too! A few weeks later, when my brothers began calling me Dumbo at the pool, it only confirmed what my father had said, sparking a campaign to hide my big ears at all cost. Eyes. Ears. What else about me was ugly?

The first confirmation of my ugliness outside my familial sphere came from my fourth grade teacher who sat me on his lap in an effort to console me after a rough bout of teasing on the playground. Mind you, this was back in the day when men weren't fired for 'Santa Claus' conferences, but I do remember feeling a bit uncomfortable as he halfway hugged me and asked why I was so glum. I must have said something to him about being ugly because the exchange that followed is one I will never forget. It went something like this:

“Oh, sweetie, I think you are beautiful. In fact, I think you look like a famous movie star.”

Feeling a slight rise in my self esteem, I wiped a few tears and looked up at his smiling face, eager to hear more. “Who do I look like?” I asked, preparing myself for a much desired grown up lie.

“Do you know who Barbara Streisand is?”

He wasn't lying.

Mistaking the disgusted look on my face for one of confusion, he immediately continued, “Oh, honey, you must not know who she is...”

“Yes, I do,” I interrupted. “She's the lady with the big nose.”

“Oh no...well...she might have a larger nose, but she is the most beautiful woman in the whole world. And I think you look just like her.”

I can't remember if I said thanks, but I do recall walking away feeling more violated by my teacher's 'compliment' than by the fact I had been sitting on his lap. Great. I now had a big nose to go with my stupid glasses and Dumbo ears.

The only place I ever felt cute was at church because it was one of the few places I remember receiving compliments about my appearance. But I didn't believe them. Who can trust church goers? They have to say nice things about you; it's their obligatory Christian duty. So I didn't trust anyone from our congregation, even though I did feel halfway attractive on Sundays. I think it was due to the fact that my hair could actually stay curled for the time allotted to church services, and the fact that I intentionally 'forgot' my glasses from time to time helped too. The problem was, there was no one at church I wanted to impress, so (ironically) it all seemed in vain. Wasted cuteness. That was almost as depressing as feeling ugly most of the time. I wanted something permanent. Something that the kids at school could appreciate and admire. Was that too much to ask? Apparently it was.

This too was confirmed by my brother Scott, who, on the eve of my seventh grade year, told me that boys in junior high would probably look at me and say, “She's okay, but she's not girlfriend material.” Not realizing that 'okay' was the closest thing to a compliment I would ever receive from Scott, I went back to the mirror hanging above my dresser and vowed that one day, even my brother would think I was beautiful. But until that day arrived, I had to sit through his football and basketball games, certain that the cheerleaders were all looking at me when they chanted, “U-G-L-Y! You ain't got no alibi. You're ugly, yeah, yeah, you're ugly!” I hated cheerleaders—especially the ones who told me I looked just like my brother...only in a dress.

My insecurities had reached such epic proportions by the time I was in high school, that the day my mother suggested I could be a shoe model, it only confirmed what I had suspected for years. Even my own mother thought I was ugly. Why else would she suggest that I model an accessory so far from my face? (Never mind the fact that at the time I wore a size five shoe, had cute toes, cut calves, and unblemished knees) I knew what she was really getting at. She picked the one feature of mine that was the farthest from my beak nose and Dumbo ears and tenderly recommended that my focus lie my feet. Mom was always good about softening blows to the ego, and this time was no different. I just wish I hadn't been so copped on to her real intent as it only reinforced my previous beliefs about my appearance. Shoe model? She may as well have put a paper bag over my head.

Such was the thought process of an insecure teenage girl. Thankfully, I grew out of my insecurities, but not without a little help.

About the time I was twenty-five I was told by my eye doctor that my vision had been corrected and I probably hadn't needed glasses for quite some time. Problem solved. Later that year, my sister-in-law gave me a makeover that completely reversed all of the inner criticisms about my looks that I had listened to for nearly a quarter of a century. Granted, it took her about an hour to transform my face, but, for the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and told my reflection, “Wow!” Maybe there was something to the swan story, after all.

About the time I turned thirty, another sister-in-law taught me how to dress and accessorize the “skinny-ass” body I had been blessed with. She will never know how much her do the best with what you have and make no apologies philosophy has meant to me.

By the time I was thirty-two I felt confident and for the first time truly believed my husband when he called me beautiful. I guess you could say I had a good seven year run in which I fulfilled the promise to myself that one day I would think the reflection staring back at me was, indeed, attractive.

On my last birthday I turned forty. I have developed a sunspot mask on my face, the crow's feet are deepening, and dry crease lines are forming around my unpuckered lips (foreshadowing the need to rid my cosmetic drawer of all feathering red lipstick).

I still don't believe the grown up lie--that looks don't matter, but you won't find me lining up for Botox injections or laser sunspot removal. Nor will you hear me trying to placate myself by saying that I love the lines of wisdom forming on my face. The fact of the matter is that on any given day, no matter how old or young we are, we can all feel ugly or beautiful. The trick is to do our best with what God gave us, make no apologies, then look for the beauty in others—realizing that beauty is a feeling we emit to those around us rather than a confirmation offered to us by a sibling, a teacher, a parent, a spouse or a reflection in the mirror.

I try to tell myself this on my ugly days. And if that doesn't work, I simply take off my shoes and socks and think to myself: Hey, all is not lost. I still have cute feet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Words of Wisdom to My Twenty-Year-Old -Self

I wrote a letter to twenty-year-old-self a few weeks ago and found it very telling. Although I don't want to share the letter in its entirety, I am posting the quick list I give myself at the end. I highly recommend this activity to anyone because it makes you feel like a real grownup and it's extremely enlightening... Thanks to my friend, Rena, for the idea:) Who says Facebook can't inspire? Not I.


1. Your husband has a hundred dollar bill hidden in his wallet on your honeymoon. Help him find it and you'll endure one less day of peanut butter and honey sandwiches—your solution to running out of cash and not having a credit card. (Don't worry, it's not an omen...I think).

2. Do not hop like a kangaroo with cub scouts. It will save you from having your one and only surgery. With that said, go easy on the knee...

3. When it comes time to have warts burned off your son, use the entire bottle of ointment they give you. This will deaden the pain and keep him from writhing on the table and calling out to you like a bleeding lamb. Holding him down will not be quite as traumatic...for either of you.

4. Do not leave your baby on the kitchen table in her car seat. Let the neighbor kids think you are mean and brush them off. I know this seems obvious, but you really struggle with being considered 'nice' over being prudent, especially when caring for an infant--one of the many reasons you stop at three. Sorry, we weren't cut out for six...

5. Some people don't mind your opinionated ways. Some people do. Figure out who really values your opinions and who just wants to attack your views and get more 'ammo' against you or others. Avoid the latter. If they are family, just keep your mouth shut, no matter how much you want their approval.

6. Stop asking your husband if he's mad at you. His back hurts, and your insecurities are now giving him a pain in his butt, too!

7. Do not take birth control pills. They make you a psychotic mess. Your husband married you. He didn't anticipate a Jekyll and Hyde wife. You'll then have to find another excuse for your manic well as explore other birth control options. Good luck.

8. Save the money you would have spent on that cruise, and fly to Hawaii instead. Oh, and get a prescription for Valium before you fly for the first time. Trust me.

9. Get over your hatred for stuffed animals. Your kids will win this battle. They love 'em and will probably keep them forever.

10. Always speak kindly of others. It makes children insecure when they hear grown ups 'ripping' on other people, or it teaches them to be mean. You don't want either one.

11. Avoid a combination of dairy, MSG, and carbonation. It will save you much embarrassment. Once Imodium is'll have a few more options.

12. Don't judge working moms. You will be one...sooner than you'd like.

13. Listen to your instincts. They are usually right, especially when you put kindness above all.

14. You have permission to laugh at people who keep insisting you will get fat after having children, when you turn thirty, or when you turn forty. Avoid the “You just wait” crowd. They tend to bug us on a multitude of levels.

15. There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Stop trying to define that and avoid people who think they know. They bug us as well.

16. Don't mow the lawn. Once you do, it will be deemed 'your job' and you will be stuck doing it until your boys are old enough. Stick with the flower beds.

17. At this point in your life, treasure your friends. Aside from your parents, they will know you the best. Plus they live close by and will provide much needed, sometimes daily, sanity checks.

18. Give up on the idea of traveling to Yakima for Christmas or Thanksgiving unless you are willing to fly. The roads are dangerous and have claimed too many lives to make it worth the risk. Don't blame your husband for this, either. Just spend the money if you want to go. Oh, and go home July 25, 2000. Plan on staying three weeks. You won't regret it.

19. Begin refinishing furniture now. You enjoy it, and it will give you a much needed hobby. It might even keep you off the phone and, in turn, keep you from annoying your siblings with too many calls.

20. Have higher expectations for the people in your life. You deserve their best.

Well, there you have it. I hope this gives you some insight as well as some motivation to look forward to the future. It is bright, it is full of promise, and as far as I can tell, it is what we make it.

With love and respect,


Your Forty-Year-Old-Self

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Test Taker Rule Breaker

One can ask for permission or one can ask for forgiveness when it comes to rule breaking. But there is something commensurately more satisfying in pointing out the ridiculous nature of the asinine rule itself.

I should have known better than to ask permission. It's always better to ask forgiveness—something I had heard but hadn't quite mastered in my young nineteen years. Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson regarding the forgiveness-permission correlation on a crisp fall day back in 1990. It all took place at the testing center at what was then known as Ricks College—a place where cheating was not tolerated but immodest dress was abhorred.

Emerging from the world-wide fashion funk of the eighties where I wore nothing but baggy sweatshirts, colorful leggings, and bangs that resembled a poplar tree, I had committed to dressing and looking more (how shall I say it?) refined in college. Okay, the rigid dress code was forced upon me as an extension of scripture, but still, I was determined to look professional and act like a grown up--mostly. That is until the day I decided to boldly test the school's strict dress code policy by wearing my green and red plaid shorts ensemble to take an exam in the testing center. My outfit consisted of a plaid jacket that matched my shorts (of course), off-white tights, gold flats, and a cream colored polyester button-up that provided just the right amount of visual reprieve from my plaid menagerie. Reflecting upon it now, I looked more like a Christmas-loving leprechaun, but by post-eighties fashion standards, I looked polished and professional.

Standing in line and feeling wryly rebellious for breaking the school's no shorts policy, I gloated at the thought of being able to tell my friends and roommates that I had gotten away with wearing shorts to take a test! Their looks of dismay and quiet admiration were forming in my mind, bringing with them an indescribable, sick sense of pleasure. But as the testing center line dwindled, so did my bravado. I began wondering what exactly happened to students who broke rules. I'd never even skipped a day of school before and, at that point in my life, I hadn't even been late to a class! Shamefully, my rebellion subsided and I caved.

Handing the student employee my ID card, I asked him point blank if he was going to “turn me in” because of my shorts (completely oblivious to the fact that he probably would have never even noticed my clothes had I shut my mouth and not said anything—a skill I didn't master until much later in life).

“Yeah, you should probably go home and change,” he said, eyeing the plethora of plaid before him.

My annoyed, “Really?” was then met by an unapologetic nod.

Feeling defeated, I did what any mature and refined nineteen-year-old young lady would do. I went back to my apartment, returning to the testing center some fifteen minutes later, donning a ratty sweatshirt that was four sizes too big, worn out running shoes, and my favorite pair of acid washed jeans--the ones with a hole in the hem...rear cheek region.

“Is this better?” I asked, handing the same student my ID card.

“Yeah, much better. Thank you for changing,” he whispered.

“Oh, believe me, it was my pleasure,” came my retort as I swaggered past him and sat in a desk at the far end of the room, making sure everyone in the adjacent rows had a view of the butt-revealing tear in the back of my pants.

I suppose it goes without saying...I aced my test that day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We'll Look For You

This was written for my nephew, Brady, who loved to laugh and gave us all reason to smile in his short nineteen years.

Heroes live forever in the hearts of those they've changed.
Imprinted for eternity, their memories remain.
Because of this it's long been said that heroes never die,
So 'til we find a better word, we cannot say, “Goodbye.”
Our eyes will fill, our arms will ache as we begin anew.
To show our love we'd rather say, “We will look for you.”

We'll look for you in a sea of gold, among the Cedar trees.
When crimson clumps of fire-red shout out in Autumn's breeze.
We know that you'll be hunting there, scouting that big buck,
Smiling 'neath your camo hat, steering “that-big-truck.”
Yes, we know you'll be waiting there to greet our empty hearts.
October can't come soon enough, but it won't keep us apart.

We'll look for you on a snow-capped mount', reaching for the sky.
Knowing you have conquered all, will give us strength to try.
And when the earth is blanketed by Winter's first fresh snow,
You'll be there in the silent night as Fire's burning glow.
We'll see you walking with The One who brought us truth and light.
And know that in this season you are in our Savior's sight.

We'll look for you in Spring's fresh palm as life returns to earth,
When popcorn-blossomed sprouting buds are triggered by rebirth.
When deer are in the velvet--their fawns not straying far,
We'll comfort your sweet mother and soothe Death's deepened scar.
We'll wrap around your brothers, co-pilot with your Dad
And share our fondest mem'ries, cherish all the time we've had.

We'll look for you in Summer's sun as she kisses all our cheeks,
When cotton candy carnivals seem to carry on for weeks.
Soldiers marching in parades with Strength and Honor bold
Will tell us you're not far behind, for these are friends of old.
We'll look for you in ev'ry season -- your family and friends.
And we'll thank God for His great plan, for we know it never ends.

Yes, heroes live forever in the hearts of those they've changed,
Imprinted for eternity, their memories remain.
Because of this it's long been said that heroes never die,
So 'til we find a better word, we will not say, “Goodbye.”

Written September 4, 2010
Christine C. Thompson

Friday, August 26, 2011

Qualified or Quantified?

What does it mean to be qualified? It used to mean you had a degree, extensive training, or some sort of certification that made it okay for you to practice a given profession or seem credible at dinner parties when the topic of conversation lent itself to your area of 'expertise.' But the word 'qualified' seems to have taken on a new meaning. Now I hear of people who have failed to pass the bar exam yet still work for law firms, claiming to be lawyers; teachers who are not certified or can't pass the Praxis II but still instruct in the classroom. Then there is the all-too-prevalent general contractor who doesn't do his homework, hiring subs who have no credentials but claim to be electricians, plumbers, or framers by trade. Sure, houses still get built, people still get legal advice, and students still receive instruction, but shouldn't the word qualified mean something more than just an ability to fake one's way through a task? After all, the word itself almost sounds like the word quality, and if my ninth grade knowledge of Latin roots does not disappoint, I believe they have the same root origin. Quality. Qualified. Yes, I think there should be a connection in the two words' connotations.

These days, it seems anyone is deemed qualified if they talk loud enough, spout generalities, and claim to have done extensive research. Research. There is another term that is so overused it no longer means anything (at least to those of us who are under-impressed by the loud voices of the self-proclaimed 'qualified' ranters). I believe what many people refer to as research is often confused with life experience—something that is undeniably important and should never be discounted, BUT SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN AS RESEARCH. When someone says they have done “the research,” I am expecting to see charts, graphs, and years of data and statistics that have been analyzed by numerous sources on both sides of an argument. I expect to see control group studies, proven testing methods, logs, journals, discriminating factors, experiments, failings, and consistent results and evidence that point to an informed claim.

I think it funny when someone says they have "done the research over the last decade,” when in reality what they are saying is that they have personally noticed a growing trend and have done little more than observe it. I believe the proper terminology for a person engaged in this type of passive reflection would be an 'observer' not a researcher. Then there are people who feel qualified to offer an informed evaluation on any given topic, claiming to have “read the research”-- a phrase that is generally code for someone spending an afternoon Googling an issue of choice. I believe the proper terminology for such a person in this instance would be a 'web surfer' not an informed 'expert' as the easily impressed might think.

Expert. There is another word that gets me. What makes someone an expert? While this word is used a bit more sparingly than 'qualified' or 'research,' its meaning still seems to have been diluted over the years as more and more experts are popping up like pimples on the face of an acne-infected society. News outlets, talk shows, and the increasingly popular reality series are prime examples of mediums that are overly saturated with 'experts' who claim to have the astringents that will cleanse America's proverbial pores where the dirt,oil, and scum of the human condition sinisterly reside (okay, enough with the zit metaphor). You get the idea.

Experts are everywhere. But are the self-promoting experts of today really necessary? Doesn't their expertise and research often resemble lessons from the past--lessons learned from the bonafide researchers of yesteryear, or better yet, our grandmothers' idiomatic generation? Are we really so delusional today that we need an 'expert' life coach to tell us how to live happily? I thought that's what honest friends and religious beliefs were for. Do we really need body image experts telling us to get over ourselves and realize that the images portrayed in Hollywood are ridiculous and unattainable for most working-class Americans? I thought that's what mirrors were for. Do parents really need educational experts telling them that reading every day will help determine their child's success in school? I thought that's what common sense was for. And finally, do women really need a sex and family relations expert telling them how to get in the mood and feel more libidinous in the privacy of their own bedrooms? I thought that's what Kevin Costner movies were for...

Silly me. Perhaps I just haven't realized that I, myself, am indeed a qualified expert who has done years of research in my own right. Maybe I should write a book, start an advice column, or begin promoting my observations as research to all who will listen. Maybe I can help appease the masses who seemingly ache for someone to tell them how to act, what to wear, how to parent, what to read, who to trust, what to watch, or how to feel.

Then again, maybe I am not an expert, after all. Maybe I am just someone who is loud and likes to share her opinions regarding her own observations and life experience. But, hey, according to the research I've done over the past two decades, there really is no difference.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The Helpa serious look at a book that made me worry, groan, and laugh out loud.

Any time you cross a line, no matter how real it seems to you and no matter how long ago it was drawn, if you truly respect those on the other side, eventually, the line will cease to exist.

The problem with lines is not that they exist, it's that they keep people from seeing the world from another viewpoint.

Lines were never meant to be drawn by others. Each individual must decide for him or herself where to draw the line on any given issue.

If I can only have relationships with people who view the world as I do and consistently validate the lines I've drawn (without ever questioning them), surely, I do not know true friendship.

The more time someone spends explaining to me why a line exists, the less credibility I give to the line and its observers.

Lines are meant to be crossed with humility and respect. It is one thing to cross a line in order to walk in someone else's shoes. It is entirely another to do it for the sake of trampling on others' soles.

When we say, “She crossed the line,” what we are usually saying is, “She crossed me.” I suppose the trick is to know the difference--and own it.

Lines that lie on the faces of the elderly or in the furrowed brows of a confused child, often have more wisdom than the lines drawn and accepted by society.

I am grateful that Ms. Stockett crossed the line she'd been raised to believe was too “tacky” to cross. Who knows how many other “tacky” lines will be erased as a result.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Resume for a Receptionist

This my answer to the lovely service I was rendered today. I often wonder how long I would have a job if I treated my students, their parents, or my fellow faculty members in a similar manner.

Qualifications: I am adept at becoming so bogged down with everyday tasks that I snap at anyone who dares interrupt my typing or phone answering duties for something so insignificant as checking in at the front desk. I have also mastered an effective eye roll and look of annoyance that is sure to make anyone already uncomfortable with doctors visits even less at ease.

Strengths: Going from a syrupy sweet phone conversation to a cantankerous confrontation with co-workers or patrons with the simple click of the receiver is also a skill I have obtained over the years. I can go from pleasant to bitchy in less than .03 seconds, especially if there is a skinny blond standing at my counter.

Skills: Omitting pertinent information when scheduling appointments is where most of my expertise lies.

Example of Expertise: Just this week (in one of those syrupy sweet phone conversations) I failed to mention that our office had recently changed locations. However, when the patron didn't seem to mind after going to the wrong address, I had to find another way to make her visit memorably unpleasant. I was really able to get under her skin by asking her where her paperwork was. When it was obvious that she didn't have the appropriate forms for her boys, I condescendingly listened to her excuse (...that school hadn't started yet and she was just trying to get a jump on the upcoming school year's physicals—whatever...lame). I then had to roll my chair three whole feet, open the heavy filing cabinet, pull out the one-page forms she needed, and wave them at her...but not before indicating that we keep forms on hand for irresponsible people such as herself. Then when I had rolled all the way back to my desk, she had the nerve to ask me if the BSA required a different form for physicals than the schools (yet another piece of information I could have told her on the phone but didn't). Needless to say, I gave her my signature eye roll AGAIN, scooted my chair an excruciating four whole feet to the filing system, pulled out the BSA forms, and just before handing them to her, let her know that these forms could have been printed online, unmistakeable annoyance rising in my voice. I believe that my handling of this ignorant woman will ensure that we will have less wait time and more opportunities to serve patrons who either don't have insurance or who are on state assisted care because I doubt she--the hard-working, well-dressed, dumb blond, insured-and-willing-to-pay, mother of three--will ever be back.

I look forward to hearing from you...via telephone, of course. I will even consider rolling my chair five whole feet to answer your call.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Utah Moms ala Katy Perry

I know a place where the
Peaks are always higher
Youth, seems to be
the object of ev'ry de-sire
Cold, dry, and white
There's somethin' to that salty water

Sippin' Coke is a sin
So's layin' out in just our skivvies (Undone)
The boys
Crane their necks
Try'na sneak a little creepy peeky (At us)

You could travel the world
But nothin's as fun
as the Wasatch Fro-ont
Once you playgroup with us
You'll be bloggin' every day

Utah moms, yeah, we're so incredible
Knee length shorts
Tight t-shirts on top
Spray-on tan
So hot we'll melt your Jell-o
oooooooh oh oooooh ohh
ooooooooh oh oooooh

Utah moms, yeah,we're undeniable
Find fresh deals
With mad coupon skills
Wasatch represent
Now put your hands up.

(Verse 2)
Don't, ever swear
Heck and freak, are ex-ple-ti-i-ves
We fan
In my van
Josh Groban on the stere-o-o(oh oh)

Utah moms, yeah, we're so determined
Don't care what it takes to give birth
Want to have at least four kids if poss-i-ble
oh oh ah oh oh

You could travel the wo-orld
But nothin's as fun
as the Wasatch Fro-ont
Once you scrapbook with us
You'll be craftin' every day

Utah moms yeah, we're so incredible
Knee length shorts
Tight t-shirts on top
Spray-on tan
So hot we'll melt your Jell-o
oooooooh oh oooooh ohh

Tuned in to KSL
Waitin' to hear
What the prophets tell.
Turn it up cuz'
It's gettin' heavy.
Tattoos, piercings
Can't be many.
Body's a temple
Must take a stance
But didn't say nothin'
'bout breast implants!

The girl's a freak
Married a geek
Eternal comp'
She'll no longer seek
I'm okay
I won't play
Love to say
Can't get enough
Great Salt Lake.
The Hills, New York
They ain't the same
The Real Housewives
Are in Salt Laaaaaaaake

Hangin' out
Mod bod t's
Bustin' 'bout
Baby binkis, virgin martinis
No bikinis
Just a kingy
And a queen-ie
Hey, my lady
You're havin' my baby
(Uh huh)
Hurry up and take my arm
'Cause you look just like a Utah mom
(Ohhh yeahh)

Utah moms, yeah, we're so incredible
Knee length shorts
Tight t-shirts on top
Spray-on tan
So hot we'll melt your Jell-o
oooooooh oh oooooh ohh
ooooooooh oh oooooh

Utah moms, yeah,we're undeniable
Find fresh deals
With mad coupon skills
Wasatch represent
Now put your hands up.
Moms of Utah, Utaaahhhhh)
Utah mommies, man
I wish they all could be
Utah moms
(Yeah, they're Utahhhhhh) (ha ha ha ha ha)
I really wish
You all could be
Moms of Utah
(Yeah, Utaaaahhh, moms)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Interview with Anderson Cooper 'Bout Mutton Bustin'

With my luck, THIS is what WOULD happen if I ever relented and allowed any of my children to enter this rodeo ritual...
The events described below are complete fiction. The opinions, however, are all mine.

Anderson Cooper (looking dapper and suave as ever): They say it's a rite of rodeo passage—some starting as early as two years of age. It's done in the name of toughness. Done in the name of proving ones child can 'cowboy up' and take a little grit in the teeth and a few bumps to the head. But is it really worth the risk? Is what they call Mutton Bustin' really worth parents' bragging rights or the chance at a very large and gaudy livestock trophy? One mother in Spanish Fork, Utah is asking herself those very questions tonight. I am joined by Chris Thompson, small town mother of three whose daughter, Anna, was tragically paralyzed in last night's sheep riding competition at their annual Fiesta Days celebration. Mrs. Thompson, how is Anna holding up tonight?

Me: Anderson, she is in pretty good spirits considering what she's been through. Thank you.

Anderson (with a look of concern): Now, for our viewers who are not familiar with this particular rodeo custom, is it true that your daughter was trying to ride a sheep when the incident took place?

Me: That is correct.

Anderson (inquisitive): What kind of training did your daughter have? What was her experience? I am assuming that you and your family are familiar with farm animals and the dangers they pose?

Me (a hick accent forming): No, not really. Anna's only experience with farm animals came from pettin' her grandfather's horses and watching mutton bustin' at past rodeos. Plus, her cousin's cousin on the other side rides bulls. Does that count?

Anderson (looking dismayed and not quite sure where to go with that response): So, she hadn't practiced or prepared in any way... What kind of protective gear was Anna wearing, because I know in other states, it is mandatory for children to wear a protective mask? helmet? vest?

Me (hick accent growing stronger): Well, Sir, they don't have those kinds of fancy requir'ments here in Utah, and besides, those things might've protected Anna from a busted tooth or a severe head injury, but there is nothin' she could've wore to keep her from havin' her spine busted up the way it was.
(Dead air time as Anderson formulates what was just said)
My princess was, however, all dudded-up with a cute pink hat and matchin' boots. Plus, I'd curled her hair real big like a rodeo queen, ya know?

Anderson (looking flummoxed): No, Mrs. Thompson, I don't know. Do you mean to say that you sent your daughter to the middle of an arena, atop an animal that reached speeds up to twenty miles per hour, eventually ramming her into a cattle fence, paralyzing her, and the only protection you offered her came in the form of an eighties hairdo? What the hell were you thinking?

Me (hick accent reaching Ozark proportions): Well, she's wanted to do it ever since she was a tiny thang, and I figured that if she had the gumption, by golly, I was gonna let her try.

Anderson (looking forlorn into the camera): Mrs. Thompson, do you hear yourself? People all over the country, right now, are listening to you describe how you used your daughter's 'gumption' as you call it, to allow her to unwittingly provide entertainment for a crowd of people whose collective IQ apparently isn't much higher than your own! She was simply a spectacle—all to get what...a laugh? a trophy? bragging rights? Why exactly did you put your daughter in a situation that in most parts of the country would be deemed nothing less than child abuse?

Me (whiny, mamma bear, hick voice forming): Well, she was really lookin' forward to it.  She held on for a pretty good run, and had that devilish sheep not ducked its head and charged straight for that fence, she coulda had that trophy! And if that'd a happened, Anderson, you wouldn't be sayin' child abuse, you'd be sayin' glory, glory, glory!

Anderson (shaking his head): Mrs. Thompson, you have the final word...your daughter will never walk again. What do you have to say for yourself?

Me (with whiny, undaunted, ignorant resolve): Well, she may never walk again, but next year...even without the use of her legs...I guarantee you, Anderson, that Anna'll be ready to hang on and ride, pink hat, curls and all! (camera fades to black) Helmets are for wussies!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thoughts and Insights I Had While at Seven Peaks

Caution: This post contains graphic description, uncensored opinion, and the f-word...(fat).

Regarding children...

*Women who bring newborns to the pool deserve a medal of honor.

*Parents who allow their children to run full speed and chase each other through crowded places should be water boarded.

*The only thing worse than cold water in the Lazy River, is cold water with occasional warm spots.

Regarding the fact that only a handful of adults can look GREAT in a swimsuit...

*There is a difference between 'fit' fat and 'jiggly' fat and most of us over the age of 12 have both. The trick is to cover as much jiggly as possible, limbs excluded, of course.

*If, like mine, your stomach or breast region has the consistency of bread dough, Jell-o, or that of a deflated balloon, no one else should have to see it. And I'm not just talking women...

*The solution to many of the body image issues so prevalent in our society are just a pair of board shorts and a tankini top away. I wear both.

*Whether you are size 2 or 22, tan fat looks better than white fat, but covered fat looks best. One can be happy and secure with one's body image without exposing every last imprudent inch of it.

*Due to the (apparent) rapid decline of honest friends, there is a rising need for more mirrors at public pools.

Regarding human silliness...

*The concept of renting a tube and then paying to have it babysat so no one else can take it, is an interesting one--almost as intriguing as people saving seats at church with their scriptures, or better yet, their pajama-clad children...(true story).

*High heels with a bikini in Provo, Utah. Really?

*I love the argument that breast implants are akin to orthodontics. You are just fixing an imperfection...Tonight we went to a family night at the water park that was sponsored by our orthodontist. Saw lots of great smiles and very few boob jobs (by Utah standards). Apparently, the types of moms who care about their kids' teeth, don't care about breast augmentation (or they just can't afford to).

*I paid how much for that handful of fries? Bring on the jiggly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

American Idol: An Old Schooler's Perspective---Spring 2010

A few nights ago I overheard one friend questioning another’s obsession with American Idol. There was no judgement being passed, just a simple inquiry into a phenomenon she has yet to discover. Had I not been exhausted and trying to pay attention to the unfolding plot of the four hour movie we were watching, I may have joined the conversation. As it was, the explanation my friend offered was brief and the conversation ended without too much discussion. However, once the movie had come to an end and I was lying sleepless in the comfort of my own bed that night, I couldn't’t help but ponder the question that had been posed earlier that evening. Just what exactly is it that I and so many other viewers love about American Idol?

After all, I am a grown woman (yes, that’s a euphemism for “almost-middle-aged,” but I couldn’t bring myself to use it here). I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island, The Price is Right, and never missed an episode of The Love Boat. Until now, no reality series has even come close to luring me into its time-sucking trap, but every Tuesday night for the past I don’t know how many years I have found myself in front of the TV, tuning in to see the performances of America’s latest wannabe's.

Perhaps therein lies the draw. A show of wannabe's. Certainly, we all can relate to a group of people striving for a fast-track to success in what they deem their profession of choice, and the entertainment industry provides the perfect forum for such a spectacle. Let’s face it, who would want to tune in every week to see a group of tomorrow’s hopeful teachers battle it out in the classroom, wielding nothing less than their best anticipatory sets and most clever uses of the latest graphic organizers, all in an attempt to win a salary which often pales in comparison to that of any local plumber found in the Yellow Pages?

I have always been a fan of documentaries which highlight the ups and downs of various artists’ careers and the roads that led them to their fame, or in some cases, notoriety. I suppose American Idol provides me the opportunity to ride along and view the documentary of success as it unfolds. Better yet, I can even feel a part of the journey by casting my vote when I feel so inclined. But somehow, I don’t think the power of the vote is what attracts me to the show so much as the vulnerability of the contestants themselves.

We live in a culture that professes equality and often frowns upon openly putting one person above another. Judgement and criticism connote negativity–so much so that both have nearly been eliminated from the public school system. As a teacher, I am often counseled to use a positive approach to discipline, ask open-ended questions, avoid the use of the ever-critical red pen, and never question a child’s behavior openly in front of his peers. All of this is done in an effort to protect “Johnny” and his ever-increasing false sense of self esteem–-a term foreign to generations prior to baby boomers. In some cases, even parents have gone from being authoritative advisors for their children to becoming neutral consultants as they allow their children to self-navigate the world in a way they think best suits them. In our attempt to become judgement-free we have, in many ways, become a society without judgement. Rules are bent, exceptions are made, and limits seem to know no bounds in much of our current culture. In contrast, many of us almost-middle-agers (there, I said it) remember a time when not every hardworking student got As, parents told their children no more than yes, and not every girl who tried out expected to make the cheerleading squad.

I think this is what draws me to American Idol. Amidst a culture that promotes equality, and sometimes mediocrity, contestants take the stage every week knowing they will be openly criticized, even scrutinized, in front of the entire nation and eventually eliminated in a contest where there can be only one winner.

Assuming that this demotic talent show appeals to others for the same reasons it appeals to me, gives me hope. Hope that we haven’t forgotten the value of fierce competition. Hope that we can still appreciate the necessity for criticism. Hope that we can recognize that as we are watching others strive for their dreams under stressful circumstances, we understand that the fruition of the dream is only part of what delivers happiness. And yet, while it is true that the journey itself can bring much fulfillment and joy, being deemed the best at what you do whether you are the plumber, the teacher, or the next American Idol, is enough to make anyone’s heart sing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mommy Monster: Chapter One...of Many

Something happened the day I gave birth to my son Kyle. Well, duh, of course something happened. I squeezed a nine pound baby from my loins without the help of any modern medicinal agents that are so commonly used today. Well, okay, I suppose I un-willingly received help from the medical world in some fashion. It came in the form a nurse, I'll call Helga, who leveraged herself against the rails of my bedside and barbarically pushed on my ribcage in true WWF fashion, hoping to help in the delivery my already half grown child. But aside from the trauma caused by my son's harried birth, (and despite the fact that immediately afterward, I was trying not to think he looked like a squinty, one-eyed Mickey Goldmill who at any moment could've sat up and declared, “You're the champ, Rock,” in gravely tones), the day I had Kyle changed me. Yes, I morphed into something of which Parents magazine would never write—something more awful than the pain of natural childbirth itself. I became...a mommy monster.

Mommy monsters think they are the only ones who can do something right, but then get (how shall I say it?) pissy when others try to do things that only they are qualified to do. They ask things like, “Who folded these burp cloths like this?” in tones so snippy that no one dares fess up to the alleged crime. They say things like, “I just put the baby down. Don't even think about picking him up.” They do things like repeatedly check on a the slumbering tot and change him incessantly before anyone else can interfere with her master plan of parenting. And while it may seem that the mommy monster is in complete control of her newly created reality, it becomes very evident that she is not exactly 'wrapped tight' when something so simple as her spouse suggesting that she go take a bath while he watches the baby, sets her off on a tirade, screaming, “No one ever helps me around here. I have too much to do to bathe. Now,get out of my way!”

to be continued...perhaps at novel lengths.

Bode to Tiger-

Oh to be there the night thou fell from grace,
Thy true character exposed.
What aficionado might not have paid to see such a spectacle?
Like an angel of vengeance
Her crashing through thine darkened windows of deceit.
In flowing robes of white, attacking thy chariot as thou scrambled to flee--
Her only weapon, the clubs once used to build thy kingdom.

Then, in the wee hours, before the dark turned to dawn,
Light shedding on thy reputation, once impeccably clean,
Thou wast forever dented and tarnished, never to be repaired.
Yes, for one so adept at reading the greens and fairways of life,
It became evident that this time,
Thy errant play would be thine end.

And so it is with nary an ounce of pity in my voice
I proclaim...
May thou shootest twenty over,
Never to wear the coveted green jacket again.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Gift

Reading poetry is like unwrapping a gift.

It can be obnoxiously wrapped in newspaper, taking hours to peel back each layer

Or it can be so beautiful that you just want to sit and stare at its creative covering—going no deeper than the surface.

The gift can be full of thought, making the receiver its true beneficiary

Or it can be more an expression of the giver—never intended to elicit a response from others.

It can be something you keep for generations, passing down its wisdom to those you love,

And it can be something you pass on as an inside joke, bringing with it knowing laughter and meaningful connections.

It can also be a gift that is readily discarded, its purpose never understood.

It can be popular with the masses

Or like, Steve Urkel fashion plates, it can be 'all wrong' on a multitude of levels.

Poetry is not one-size-fits-all

Because what many love, some may abhor.

Nevertheless, it is still a gift.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Wonder to Behold

Many of my students giggle when I use the word 'television.' Some even look lost because they don't know I am referring to a TV, their lifeblood. I get a similar reaction when I say the word 'telephone.' Inevitably, a student will repeat the word with a snicker “telephone...” Yes,they love to point out how antiquated I am when I spew references to old trends they know nothing about, or use seemingly old fashioned words like 'folks' and 'hoity-toity.' I'm sure you can imagine my pupil's shock and awe the day I produced a gadget in my classroom that most of them had never seen before. ('Pupil' is yet another giggle inducer, in case you were wondering...).

No, the gadget I showed them was not a cotton gin...and no, it wasn't a Ouija board. It was an electric typewriter! There was a palpable energy in the room as I set the margins and scrolled a sheet of computer paper through its roller. By then the crazed crowd was chanting, “Plug-it-in. Plug-it-in.” Cheers erupted as the plug met the outlet and a beeping sound indicated that it had been turned on. I then proceeded to do my best Lucille Ball imitation of a secretary, typing away for about twenty seconds. The energy in the room reached an all-time high when I ripped the paper from the machine and held up a sheet full of gibberish that was then passed around the room so each student could ooh and ah over the relic they now held in their hands. Oh, the things that impress twelve and thirteen-year-olds. Then again, isn't anything that distracts the teacher and wastes a few minutes of class time usually considered a worthwhile wonder?

Lucille Ball (August 6, 1911– April 26, 1989) was an influential American comedian who starred in popular self-named sitcoms of the 1950s.

Ouija boards have been around since 1890, scaring the crap out of young girls attending slumber parties by spelling out messages from the devil himself.

Thirteen-year-olds are small humans whose brains have been pruned to the point where they (seemingly) no longer have one.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Determifaction n. The immeasurable sense of satisfaction a head-strong child feels upon proving a parent wrong.

Faulty Rims…Faulty Backboards…Faulty Logic?

Scents of sweet cotton candy and salty popcorn wafted through the thick summer air, mixing perfectly with the excitement that could be generated by one event, and one event only--our annual trip to Dairy Days at Lagoon. The only thing more palpable than the salt and saccharine-infested atmosphere, was my eager anticipation. Yes, for the first time my parents were allowing me and my younger brother, Todd, to tag along with our older siblings--without adult supervision. In our young minds, it was a rite of passage that meant we had officially arrived.

My sister Julie, five years my senior, was kind enough to share her food purchases with me and more than happy to instruct me on the finer points of scary rides and carnival games. I remember watching with admiration as she made a series of baskets at the Hoop Shoot, coming up just one shot short of a prize when her ball took a lazy stroll around the rim and lipped out into the dirty hands of an unsympathetic carnival worker. “Sorry, Ladies. Come again,” his gruff voice growled as we turned away.

“Do you think I could try?” I asked my sister, hope rising in my voice.

“Sure,” she said, “if you think you’re tall enough to shoot over the counter, and if you can talk Mom or Dad into giving you a couple of bucks.”

A wise mentor, Julie had brought up two valid obstacles that would have to be considered: my small stature and, even more challenging, our parents' tight wallets. Feeling optimistic, we set out on our monetary quest. It wasn’t too long before we spotted Mom and Dad sitting on a bench in the fairway, holding hands, contentedly observing the menagerie of blinking lights, pipe organ sounds, and the throngs of people passing by.

Acknowledging the hint my sister had given me just moments before, I headed straight to the parent who would most likely fork out the cash. "Dad, can I have two dollars?"

"What for?" he inquired suspiciously.

"I wanna win a teddy bear at the Hoop Shoot. It’s a basketball game and I think I can win. Please?"

He thought for a moment, giving me hope. "Look," he said. "There is something you need to understand about carnival games..." He then settled in to deliver what would become one of the most memorable 'Dad lectures' I have ever received.

He went on for what seemed like an hour to my fifth grade brain. I'm sure I pretended to listen intently, nodding knowingly, as he blabbed on about how carnival games were a farce: the hoops were always smaller than the balls, the rims were bent to make success more difficult, faulty backboards made the ball's bounce unpredictable--then there were percentages and odds working against me! Finally, he paused and stared at me inquisitively, lips pursed, eyebrows raised as if to ask, You get it don't you? I'm sure he was waiting for a look of understanding to wash over me, but instead, my father got the response of a typical ten-year-old girl. “So...can I have the money...or not?”

With an exaggerated roll of his eyes, my father turned to my mother who was now stifling inexplicable laughter. He shot her a dramatic look as if to ask, Can you believe this girl? as he slowly reached into his wallet, handed over the two dollars, and jokingly asked me to return his change. I wholeheartedly agreed and took off on a full jubilant trot toward victory, leaving my mother giggling and my father shaking his head.

My excitement must have gotten the best of me because to date, I cannot recall if I used all of the money that my dad reluctantly gave me that day. I couldn't tell you if the balls I shot were the traditional bright orange or if they were Globe-Trotter red, white, and blue. I can’t even remember how many shots I made or how many I missed on that summer eve back in 1981. But, the one thing that will forever remain with me is the image of my parents erupting into a full-blown fit of hand-clapping, head-tossing, Bert-and-Ernie laughter when I rounded the corner just ten minutes later, carrying one of the world’s ugliest teddy bears tucked proudly beneath my arm. Never had my dad been so genuinely shocked. Never had he been so genuinely proud. Never had he been so genuinely wrong.

Friday, June 24, 2011

PRX: Valium

I don't travel well.

I am the woman who sits down on an airplane and immediately starts rummaging through the seat in front of her for the handy white disposal system, more commonly known as the barf bag. I've even been known to ask the people sitting across the aisle if I can take their bags...just in case. Needless to say, plane rides for me are usually filled with awkward silence. That is, until I start tossing my complimentary cookies and Coke.

Even when I drive, the traveling gods do not smile upon me. My brother, a friend, and I were stopped and interrogated for hours at, of all places, the Canadian border back in 1990. It must have been a slow night for border patrol because they even went so far as to search our car--a 1980 Pontiac Phoenix LJ, belonging to my mother--a highly suspicious car in its day... NOT! After an hour of detainment and separate interviews, it was finally insinuated that our story--which consisted of a weekend trip to Cardsten, Alberta for our brother's wedding celebration--"Didn't add up." Apparently, the thought of two siblings meeting their family for a reception taking place one week after the wedding reeked of suspicion. Our looks of dismay when we were told the border patrolman had "no reason" to believe us seemingly worked against us, and the fact that my younger brother (being the eighteen year-old smart ass he was) told the interrogating guard "We'll send you pictures" probably didn't help either. Luckily, we were eventually released and made it to the reception, both of us vowing to never grace Canada with our presence again.

Years later during our first (and what will more than likely be our last) cruise, I had Vertigo the entire week. Then again, maybe my nausea was due to the fact that while standing in line at Customs, we were informed that our stop in Cancun had been canceled due to hurricane damage. Or maybe it was caused by the news that our children's dog, Hondo, had been hit and killed by a car the night before we set sail... We were affectionately known as "the dead dog people" by our fellow "sailmates." It was a rough week.

Finally, upon arriving at the Atlanta airport, Christmas 2008, my family and I made our way to Concourse X-Y-triple Z, only to find that my bag was presumably missing. Presumably missing, you ask? Why yes, we eventually discovered that my bag was indeed on the luggage turnstile, and probably had been the entire time. It was just difficult to recognize because it had been shredded on the conveyor belt and then plastic wrapped into suitcase oblivion. This, only after the nice baggage claim clerks gathered what they could of my obliterated belongings and mushed them all together into one soupy vacation clothes-and-lotion surprise. True story.

I think it is safe to assume that whether by land, air, or by sea, if there are grouchy people to encounter or unfortunate mishaps to be had, I am sure to find them.

So, if you happen to see me anywhere in the world and I appear to be traveling, please say hello. Then, hurry and run the other way. It's okay, I'll understand.