Thursday, June 30, 2005

Buggles Strikes Deep Meaning in 2005

Something that bothers me. I encountered it today when I put a Tegan and Sara cd in my computer (which, by the way, is very good -- the old album, not the new one. And I want to thank the Red Head Supremacy Club president for bringing this album to my attention). I was going to make a long list of things that bug me, but there’s only one! Ha, just kidding. There are about a million. But I figure that if I sit here and list them all, I’ll get really perturbed and not be able to focus on my work. So I’m just going to give you this one:

1 – When I put a cd in my computer to put it on itunes and it starts loading some lame enhanced cd crap. I don’t care about the music videos. If I cared about music videos I’d watch MTV or VH1, both crap stations (in fact, I don’t see that they’re any better than The National Enquirer, People or Us magazine with all their annoying gossip). Remember the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by Buggles (which the Presidents of the United States of America resurrected in the 90s)? I feel that way. I feel like videos kill the radio star, only it’s more for me because it also kills the song. Videos sap the meaning and energy of the song.

It’s like the literary school of thought, the one about the author being dead. Once the book is written the author ceases to exist and all that matters is what’s between the front and back cover. There’s something appealing about that idea of a piece of art existing in a void. I know it’s not entirely true. But I cringe when it comes to the vanity of some musicians, walking around, posing, looking thoughtful while they sing to music that’s not really there and play guitars without pickups or microphones. It’s embarrassing and I can’t suspend my disbelief at all.

I applaud musicians who DON’T make music videos. The only music video I could stand would be a music video minus the artist. I don’t want to see them. Cool photos and video of trees or robots would be interesting. Maybe a video of a little dog wandering around a small city, sniffing fire hydrants and chasing cars. That would be interesting and humorous. But if I have to see one more musician singing into the camera and acting all cool and punk rock, I’m going to have to sell all my records and cds and go live in the woods with just my pet rock, a desk and Stoker.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


So I’ve been reading about Scientology. I went to their web site and tried to figure out what they believe, exactly. All I could gather was that what they practice makes a man totally free and what a man believes to be true is true. “Scientology is not authoritarian. There is no enforced belief or ‘faith.’” (From their web site.) I assume the quotes around faith are there to indicate the Church of Scientology’s view of faith. Faith is silly. Man is the ultimate ideal (this idea wasn’t singular to L. Ron Hubbard, the religion’s founder. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he’d been influenced by the philosophies espoused in Ayn Rand’s books. See a timeline). At least, that’s what I’ve found out from preliminary readings on Scientology.

I’m not necessarily trying to knock the religion. I really want to know what it’s all about and not because I’m interested in joining up—I’m very satisfied where I’m at, religiously. It’s Tom Cruise. He’s out there in the media shooting his mouth off, telling Matt Lauer that Matt doesn’t know anything about psychiatry, Tom has studied it, and he’s studied drugs and everything. His antics are embarrassing and I sort of see them as attention-getting devices.

But then, maybe Tom truly does know what he’s talking about. I don’t care, really. If some sad American somewhere stops taking their lithium or Paxil because of what Tom Cruise says, they have a bigger problem than depression or schizophrenia. And anyway, from the little concrete information available about Scientology on their web site, Scientology teaches a man to think for himself. So Tom’s opinions shouldn’t sway anyone. Right?

I don’t really have enough knowledge of Scientology to poke fun at it. I can only say that I think they’re kind of manipulative and duplicitous in a very amusing way. I used to live in Sugar House, the Bohemian part of Salt Lake. Some might call it a borough (except once I had a native New Yorker tell me the only boroughs were in New York City. Try telling a native Londoner that). Along 11th East, just before 21st South, where Stoker and I used to walk, is a non-descript office building. Glass windows, a glass door, a desk and chairs like a real reception room would have—you know, like your tax attorney’s office. All this is completely visible through those windows. The glass door bears a permanent sign reading “Now Hiring.” Big sticker-letters. Very permanent. Seeing as how the topic of this entry is Scientology, you’ll be surprised to know that this is the Scientology building.

And what better way to recruit? The Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City couldn’t really put a marquis out front with black, block letters reading “Now Hiring.” No one would fall for it. That goes for the Greek Orthodox churches and the Presbyterian cathedral (a few doors away from the other cathedral).

It’s just hilarious, that’s all. I’m sure plenty of people have walked into the Scientology “church” looking for a job and been given a tour and some brochures, maybe even been talked into buying one of L. Ron Hubbard’s books, a little light reading, if you will. Luckily, I wasn’t looking for a job and anyway, I figured out that the “Now Hiring” sign never came down in the five or six months I lived on 11th East. I bet if I drove by today, it would still be there.

Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I am making fun of it. A little. I simply want to know the precepts of the religion, but all I can find is an ephemeral sense of believing man is the ultimate creation and that drugs, illiteracy, crime, violence and intolerance are the ills of society that Scientology is trying to eradicate. And I agree with them. Those things are horrible.

But I find that with Scientology, I don’t really get a solid sense of anything. I look at it and think, “Okay, drugs are bad. But what beliefs do you really cling to?” You look at Catholicism and you basically know what you’re getting, “Original sin, purgatory, the 10 commandments. Right. I’m with you.” You look at Judaism and think, “Hell yes, a very old religion. It’s got the Talmud, Rabbis, undergarments, and a very invigorating style of arguing it all out. I follow you.”

With Scientology I feel like I’m falling through a mist. I have no lighthouse. No frame of reference other than L. Ron Hubbard (who was buried in a pyramid in the Mojave Desert with all his billions of dollars. I made that up, as a joke about how rich he must have been, what with establishing a religion and all, and all those expensive books you have to buy in order to join, not to mention reading his entire catalogue of books, so you really feel like you’re a part of it all) and Thomas Cruise Mapother, IV (that’s Tom Cruise, for all you laypeople).

In my opinion (and that’s all it is), truth is everywhere. No single person has the market on truth. In Self Reliance Emerson said, and I’m sure he was another influence on Hubbard, that the truth speaks for itself. When you hear it, you’ll know. As far as I’m concerned, religion should be more than ‘teaching people to think for themselves.’ I want a religion that has a basic infrastructure and a strong code to live by. If I choose to follow it, then am I not thinking for myself? I think so. Choosing to live by a code drawn up by a religion does not automatically spell out sheep.

And anyway, in the end, most people are seeking happiness, and I guess that’s what Tom Cruise is doing. But he still looks like a bumbling idiot doing it.
(See also Access Hollywood Tom and Today Show Tom.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Stoker and Lake Wobegone

This is probably my favorite photo from the wedding. It's Stoker with his mom. I don't know if you can tell, but she's really got a sparkle in her eyes. And I think you can tell Stoker loves her. He treats her so well, and as we all know, that's a good sign for how he'll treat me. I know that goes both ways, too, that I have to treat him good or else how can I expect it in return? (See my myspace for a few more pictures.)

Anyway, this morning on the way to work, we listened to Garrison Keillor. A week ago I bought this 5 cd collection of Prairie Home Companion for Stoker because he loves that radio show so much. He rarely gets to listen to it, since it's on Saturdays and all. So I surprised him and ordered that for him and today we listened to it on the way into Salt Lake, instead of the news on the radio, or one of those other talk shows we sometimes listen to. It was soothing and instead of being all riled up and angry about current events when I got to work, I felt all peaceful and calm.

The title of today's Keillor installment was "Hog Slaughter." One word or two? I don't know. It was good. He talked about the now forgotten ritual of killing the hogs in Lake Wobegone before the frost set in and the reverance the adults had at that time of year for the ritual. It was stirring. It reminded me (and Stoker, because he brought it up when the story was over), of something my mom has said, that people in animal rights organizations have probably never lived around animals. They've never seen the relationship between the ranchers and their animals and how the ranchers really do love them and feel thankful for the life the animal submits to them. Keillor captures this really well in "Hog Slaughter." His voice is captivating and full of reverence.

The first time I heard "Lake Wobegone Days" was with Stoker. We had just pulled up to the gas station in Logan, near USU, and were about to go inside to eat Indian food. The gas station, interestingly enough, is owned by an Indian family from Salt Lake, and tucked in the back corner, beneath an archway lined with Christmas lights, is an Indian restaurant known as the Indian Oven. And damn is it good. The father, who is also the chef, used to be the head chef at the Bombay House in Salt Lake. So the food is good. But even though we were both starving for delicious Indian food, we couldn't pull ourselves away from Keillor's rich voice. We listened to him as the Saturday evening grew darker with storm clouds. Stoker leaned forward in his seat, and with his hand poised over the volume knob on the car stereo, told me, "I could listen to his voice for hours and not think anything of it. It's so comforting. And I can visualize so easily the town and the people he's talking about."

I felt the same.

p.s. Myspace sucks. You have to be a member to view those other pictures. Jerks. Be sure to vote on my poll.

Monday, June 27, 2005


So, my mom’s yard has lots of fruit trees. Apparently, when my mom bought the land, she planted all these trees and expected them to be non-fruiting. I don’t know what the technical term for it is. Barren, or something. Well, they’re all fruiting trees. The plums, cherries, peaches and apples. Recently, many of them have gotten the axe, like the apples (I read a book about apples, to get good apple trees you have to do the whole grafting thing) and the plums. But the cherries are still there. This month they’re purple, ripe, plump, and Stoker is in heaven. I didn’t know this about him, but he loves cherries.

Maybe he just loves fresh fruit in general. He’s told me about when he lived in Uruguay and ate all the grapes off a friend’s vines over the space of a few weeks. The next year the family showed him all their heavy vines, laden with ripe grapes, but they told him he couldn’t eat any because they were going to make juice. The year before they didn’t have the chance because he ate most of the fruit. I can just see him, eating all the grapes, oblivious to the fact that they had intended to make juice—and really, why wouldn’t he be oblivious if they never told him? That’s an example of how good manners can ruin your plans.

But my mom doesn’t make juice. She lets the birds eat the cherries and probably wishes the trees didn’t make any fruit. The ripe cherries fall onto the sidewalk, from the wind and the robins, and much to her dismay, stain the sidewalk. But only for a little while because then it rains in the autumn and it washes away the purple blood of the cherries.

Well, I live in a house with cherry trees in the yard. Stoker loves cherries. Therefore, he loves me more. It’s the perfect situation for my mom and for him. A few evenings ago he got out the ladder and picked a bowlful of cherries. I don’t know why, but I fell in love with him more when I looked out the window and saw him carrying the ladder from the backyard, up the grass pathway lined with railroad ties. He saw me watching and waved with his free hand.

Every evening he takes advantage of the cool dusk. Last night we played catch in the backyard with my little sister. But Stoker kept taking breaks to pick cherries. So, in fact it was mostly just Cassi and me throwing the baseball back and forth while the leaves of the cherry tree rustled behind me. Occasionally Stoker’s disembodied voice would rise above the rustling, “Oh man, that was a good one.” Or, “Nikki . . . I LOVE cherries.”

I love Stoker.

I mean, how can you not love someone who loves living so much? Not “loves” in an annoying way, like the kind of person you can’t stand because they never get down and when you ask them how they’re doing they always say, “Great!” even when you know for a fact their house just burned down and their car engine blew up, so currently things really suck for them. Stoker takes certain parts of life seriously and he can get sad or angry about stuff he thinks is unjust. But he’ll also stand under the cherry tree and jump to reach a branch or one single cherry because all the lower branches have been trimmed away by my mom’s landscaper. He’ll keep jumping until he gets one. And he thinks it’s worth it, all that work for just one, small piece of fruit.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Commentary on the Music-Pirating Struggle

I have bought Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide” 5 times. More, if you count my copy of The Smashing Pumpkin’s greatest hits since she gets some royalties for that in some roundabout way. How does something like this happen, you ask, especially with musicians whining and complaining about how they’re not getting paid enough to do something they love, how people stealing mp3’s are putting a dent in their income and everything? You’ve heard it, I’m sure you have.

Before I go any further, let me explain how I’ve purchased “Landslide” so many times. I bought my first Fleetwood Mac CD in high school, about 11 years ago. That was their greatest hits album and it didn’t have “Landslide” on it, so this fact is actually irrelevant. I just wanted to demonstrate that I've been a longtime fan.

About 3 years ago I got a record player. And then I bought some used records because the sound you get from records has a beautiful texture you’ll never find with digital music. One of those records was Fleetwood Mac’s s/t album, with “Landslide” on it. So, you might argue, since it was used Stevie never saw any of that money. True, she didn’t.

But then I wanted to learn to play it on the guitar. So I had to buy the sheet music from that online sheet music place, I’m pretty sure Stevie saw some of that money, if only $.50 or something.

Later, I wanted to make a compilation for some stupid boyfriend or maybe just for myself, so I could feel lonely and sad or some crap like that. So I had to buy the song from iTunes. Don’t you think Stevie got some of that money?

Just the other day I ordered the remastered CD version of Fleetwood Mac’s s/t album, because you don’t get the convenience of portability with a record that you get with a CD. I got the super saver shipper thing so I didn’t have to pay for shipping, which was nice. The CD took a million days to arrive because UPS seemed to think it was funny to let it sit around in their various distributing places and to take it to France, Germany, Antartica and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon before dropping it at my place (I live in a very nice neighborhood). Anyway, what about that money? Don’t you think Stevie’s wallet is padded with hundred dollar bills all because of my penchant for CD portability, the sound textures of records, and guitar playability?

If you’re keeping track, you probably noticed that my count is a little off, but that’s just because of my penchant for hyperbole.

Anyway, I want to level with you: I’m sick of hearing about how I can’t make copies of the CDs I buy (for my own use or to give to my poor college student friends). Frankly, I fall into an exhausted slouch in my seat every time I notice one of those giant FBI warnings on the back of an album. What gives? You don’t see an angry mob of writer’s at the Library of Congress protesting because people borrow books from libraries instead of buying their books. You don’t hear about bitter court trials and sad-eyed testimonies of starving authors because college kids buy Cliff Notes instead of the whole book.

My best guess is that every rock-star wanna-be expects to make billions so they can buy an island or build their own $30 million recording studio in the Cascade Mountains, with a private runway and several jets for flying in their best-friends and the Brooklyn based, rap producer for their next $10 million project.

A writer just wants to write. Sure there are some with outrageous dreams of fame and fortune. But most of them would be happy just to see their book in print. Anyway, the point is that it’s not really about the music. If it were about the music the musician would simply make the music and sell the CD on or from their own web site for a realistic price. What it’s really about is the money and fame. You’ve seen it in sports. You’re seeing it in music . . . . I only hope it never gets the writers.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Losing Chase MasterCard

You’ll be happy to know that I closed my f-ing Chase credit card account last night. The bastards also owed me money for starting a payment protector plan without my authorization. I was so annoyed when I figured out they were doing that. You’ll be thinking, how could it have slipped past your attention for so long? Well, I usually pay most of my bills online and so I neglect to look at paper statements. Chase’s un-user-friendly online bill stuff doesn’t show all the pertinent information on your home page. Since I wasn’t buying things with it, I never thought it necessary to check out all the details. And that was back when I didn’t think credit card fraud could happen to me.

They told me I authorized the payment protector bull-shit plan on July 30th. Guess what? I was on my way to Omaha on July 30th. I’d just quit my job in Logan, had moved back to my parent’s home in Farmington and we were driving to Nebraska to see my oldest sister who was going to have a baby. Chase would have called my mom’s house since they didn’t have my cell phone number. I know they were lying. And I was pissed.

So, rejoice with me, if you will. I have broken the bonds Chase MasterCard had around me*.

My advice to you: never sign-up for a Chase card. Never trust Chase. Down with Chase!

It wasn’t a fight, either, like it was when I tried to close my damn Capital One card. The girl at Chase asked why I wanted to close it, I said you’re interest rates suck, I don’t like your service (most of their customer service people have heavy accents and I have to ask them to repeat everything. It’s horrible. You’re already annoyed about the card and then you have to deal with a language barrier), and you put an unauthorized service on my account and made me pay for it. Incidentally, you now owe me money and I should have had it months ago. She said sorry, we’ll have that check to you in 5-7 days. I was surprised. So I told her thanks for you help, goodbye. Normally I would have taken the opportunity to tell Chase to go to hell and burn! But I didn’t because she was so nice and did just what I asked her to do.

Also last night Stoker and I went to the climbing gym. It was great. Stoker loved it and he’s a natural. He’s not one of those obnoxious meathead guys who goes into the gym the first time and tries to muscle his way to the top, oblivious to climbing technique, wanting to impress everyone with his bulging biceps (no one is ever impressed). Stoker moved rather gracefully for his first time and paid attention to balancing and moving efficiently. It was sweet.

My old friend Mike was there and gave him really good tips and paid close attention to us, mainly Stoker, and even spotted him sometimes. I was so glad they were getting along and that Mike gave us good beta and directed us to the easy climbs. The gym is massive and has a plethora (“Jefe, do you know what a plethora is?”) of routes. Finding an easy climb there is like finding a needle in a haystack, to use a tired cliché.

The best part of it is that Stoker loved it and wants to go more often.

*I opened this account during college. Every college student has this story, you know, the one about how college is so damn expensive and you can't afford to eat or buy anything and you're working but it's not enough because you can't work full time and go to college full time and have time to study. You're loans and grants aren't enough and you're parents aren't paying for school and you didn't earn $50,000 during the summer because you didn't want to go to Illinois to sell pest control products door-to-door.

So you get a credit card because it's a good idea to establish credit and up 'til now you didn't have any, but they still give you a $1,000 dollar credit limit and much to your surprise, the debt adds up and you've maxed it out. And you're not really sure how to live frugally because you've never had to, much, and so you buy a CD here or there and some Christmas presents because you like to give gifts.

Well, okay, probably most people didn't buy CDs here and there, but I did. Now I'm paying the price. But I think I've learned the lesson. Don't buy on credit. Pay your debt back. Live within your means. A debt free existence is priceless. Visa? Not priceless. Don't fall for their stupid commercial. Anyway, some debt is okay, like a mortgage and student loans. But debt for a huge-ass truck? Not really okay. Or a movie screen size, flat-screen plasma t.v.? Probably over-doing it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Someone sent me an invitation to join So what the hell, I joined. To put it mildly, it sucks. Quite a bit, actually. I don't know if it's just me -- it could be -- or if it's them. I think it's them. It's not very user-friendly. It's a labyrinth of links and profiles, friends and advertising space. Maybe it's good for the whole listen-to-my-music people. Since I don't have any music of my own, that doesn't appeal to me.

The problem now is that I only have two friends and so I appear to be a loser. Let me assure you, I'm not a loser. My two friends are my new husband,
Stoker, and some guy named Tom who sent me an email when I joined. I don't know this Tom guy and haven't responded to his email. Am I supposed to? Anyway, I think it's weird that some dude sent me an email as though he's my friend (he's probably not even real). Did I accept him as a friend? I don't know. I might have accidentally clicked on an "accept" button somewhere on the page. That's entirely possible since there's a link every other inch on As you might have guessed from that last hyperbole, I'm no tech-guru. I'm not even tech-savvy. It's like I've lived in a cave for 25 years or something.

Anyway, check out my page and sign up to be my friend. If you know how. I don't know how. I haven't figured that out yet. Don't you think it should be easier to figure out? What morons started And do they realize it sucks?

Vote now. Be heard (this poll is very scientific. I'm going to send the results to

As far as user-friendly goes,
is the friendliest (in my book)
I've never been to and never will

Free polls from

p.s. I've changed this post a few times, in my search for the best poll-maker. This poll-maker still sucks. But, like I said, I'm not tech-savvy. So, if you have any suggestions on how to make it better, please leave a comment. I can't quite figure out how to close the stupid gap between the poll and my last paragraph. Oh. Now it works. Frustrating!

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Metal Detector and Buried Treasure

Let’s be honest. By a show of hands, who wanted a metal detector when they were a kid? If you’re hand isn’t up, you obviously never had a childhood or you were clearly ignorant of metal detectors. If you were ignorant of them, I don’t see how your childhood could possibly count as a childhood.

Anyway, I don’t remember when I first heard of metal detectors (although, it’s coming back to me: I seem to remember Gyro Gearloose—the wacky inventor—using one on a beach in a Walt Disney comic book), but I know I wanted one when I was growing up. I felt certain that there was treasure buried in my yard somewhere. And just before my mother’s divorce when I was 8 and even after that, all the money we found that my crazy father hid seemed like a good indicator that there was a buried treasure in the yard. After all, he landscaped it and worked tirelessly at keeping it well-manicured before and during the crazy years.

My father was no stranger to caching away large sums of money*. His not-so-secret fear seemed to be that A) he’d be robbed by a man in a nylon stocking mask, B) he’d be robbed by my mother while he was sleeping, C) one of his brothers would knock him out and yes, rob him, or D) the stock market would crash again, the banks would fail, and all that would be left with any value would be gold and silver. The logical thing to do was to hide money. Paper money and silver and gold coins.

Why not a treasure in the yard?

To illustrate with a story why my yard should be rife with treasure: when I turned 18 my father was once again in jail. I don’t remember what it was this time. Attempted arson, failure to pay traffic tickets, I don’t know. But at 18, I was now able to visit him in the county jail. So my older sister, Kelly, and I went to visit him out of a sense of duty and goodwill.

At the jail, we waited for him in a room separated by glass, like the kind you see on television. He entered wearing an orange jumpsuit (this was 9 years ago, maybe they didn’t really wear orange jumpsuits and my mind is just filling in the details). The important part of this was the little, penciled map he gave us. Before going to jail, he’d hidden a bunch of gold and silver coins in a coffee can somewhere in Salt Lake. The county, not the city. To paint a picture, the county has roughly 740 square miles of hill and dale, with just under a million inhabitants. The treasure was somewhere in that area. I didn’t live in
Salt Lake City or County and was only familiar with the portion of Salt Lake near the U of U, where I had gone for ballet lessons for many years.

So, we gave the map to our cousin Mark who was building a house close to where the map indicated the coffee can pot o’ gold was. He didn’t find the treasure. When Kelly told my father, he was doubtful and suspicious. All his worst fears were coming true. The can was gone . . . supposedly. I’m sure my father suspected Mark. Or Kelly. Or my mother (she had used some of the other money she’d found in the past to pay for our braces—since my dad never paid child support). Well, a little while after he got out of jail** he went looking for his wayward treasure. And he gloated when he found it:

“Nik, remember the money I hid?”

“No. Well, which money?”

“The money in the coffee can, remember? When I gave you a treasure map to find it?”

“Noooo.” My dad never forgets anything. It’s part of his problem. He dwells on things. Sometimes it’s funny.

“Remember when I was in jail and you and Kelly visited me?” Then I remembered because how could I forget seeing my dad in jail?

“Oh. That money. What about it?” I thought he was going to accuse me or someone of stealing it.

“I found it,” his grin was very large and a little frightening.

Mark must have read my father's map wrong. I don’t see how, since it was so accurate.

Years later, imagine the possibilities when
Stoker digs his old metal detector out of storage at his parent’s home. Okay, okay. So I wasn’t that eager to go metal-detecting around my mom’s yard. I don’t know the measurements of it, but it’s not small. Last night, Cassi, Stoker and my step-dad, Terry (who I sometimes call my dad when I write here, to be more concise and because he’s been a better father to me than my biological father. I just don’t want you getting them confused), took the metal detector for a spin. Eventually I joined them.

All we found was a bunch of rusty nails and a large, metal pipe. Even the spots under the cherry trees, where I always suspected a buried treasure would be, were empty of anything but a few nails (my sisters, my cousins and I liked to hammer nails into the railroad ties for fun). The only triumph came when we found an old metal sprinkler head that went missing 8 years ago or something. Terry was thrilled.

Anyway, this story was going to be about our adventures with the metal detector, but ended up being more about my father. Stories involving him are more entertaining anyway. As far as digging for treasure in my mom’s yard goes, there might still be something under the old cherry trees. The metal detector only detects about 6 inches into the ground. I’m sure my crazy father must have buried something there.

*During the crazy years while my mom was still married to him, my sister Kelly found between $3000 and $4000 in one of the vents. After the divorce, my mom or Terry found $2000 in the jacket of one of her records. This was years ago, when $3000 was more like $300,000.

**side note: growing up my family played Monopoly a lot. My dad was always in jail. Seriously. Either for getting doubles three times in a row, or for getting the “go to jail” thing. I haven’t played in years and don’t remember if that’s a space you land on, or if it’s one of those “chance” cards. Well, it’s like life imitates fiction. In reality he’s in jail all the time.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Stupid PETA Employees

This morning Stoker sent me a link to the article about how some PETA employees were arrested . . . for dumping some animal bodies in some dumpster, somewhere in Norfolk, VA (it had been going on for quite a while, apparently). Question: What are PETA employees doing with animal bodies?

The article says they were picking them up from animal shelters for euthanization (which, by the way isn’t a word recognized by the dictionary, but that’s how it appeared in the article. I think the proper way to say it, is to be euthanized). New question: Since when did PETA, also known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, euthanize animals? Someone asked me why it would matter that they were dumping them in a dumpster, I mean, after all, they are dead.

Well, I haven’t looked this up, but I think it’s always illegal to dispose of animals in dumpsters, even your own garbage can is off-limits when it comes to dead bodies, animal or human. I think. I’m pretty damn sure about that. In major cities it’s kind of a problem. People who live in apartments have a pet that dies and they either have to pay to have the animal cremated, or bury it in a pet cemetery.

Wait! Do pet cemeteries even exist? Yes, in fact they do. I found several links talking about pet death, burial and curb-side pick-up—a Fort Worth site calls this service a “process for properly handling the remains that not only shows respect for the pet, but also protects the health and safety of the public” [link]. I find this humorous and completely untrue. They tell you to put your cat or dog in a trash bag and leave it on the curb and they’ll have some stranger pick it up. What that stranger will then do with your pet, who knows. The site says it will be disposed of in a safe and sanitary manner, but will you ever know? Maybe they’ll get lazy one day and put it in a dumpster behind a shopping center.

Anyway, here’s a better link to a site discussing different ways to take care of your dead pet, most of them address how to truly show grief and respect for your old friend. Unlike the Fort Worth method, which advises a person to treat a dead animal like a freak biohazard*.

But back to my original point, which is about PETA and what the hell are they doing euthanizing animals? Why aren’t those kids out throwing paint on fur coats, liberating test lab rats and putting up pornographic Pamela Andersen-boycott-KFC billboards (all methods sure to convert the masses to their cause)?

Addendum (posted at 4:00 pm): Stoker sent me this link to a site revealing imporant facts about PETA. Some of you may know this already, but they seem to be more focused on shock tactics than saving the lives of animals. They euthanize over 80% of animals taken to them. This information came out several years ago, so you may have already heard it.

*I’m not saying it’s impossible for diseases to be spread through animals, like the bubonic plague and the hantavirus. I’m simply saying, yeah, wash your hands and don’t lick the carcass and you’ll probably be okay not using gloves. And certainly there are occasions where you’d want to use gloves. But let’s be honest. Dead human bodies are touched all the time by doctors and forensic pathologists, without gloves sometimes, and if I’m not mistaken (which I could be), a dead human body is much more likely to spread human disease among humans. So anyway. I don’t know why I even care about this subject. It’s totally stupid that I’ve dedicated an entire blog entry to pet burial. What a joke. I suppose my real crusade here is against (what I would call) basic human stupidity. I’m against it, stupidity. Even stupidity in myself. That’s why I’m so tough on myself because sometimes I can be very stupid.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I was writing this thing for Stoker’s mom today. It goes along with something she’s giving to her parents on their 50th or 55th wedding anniversary. Anyway, I got into it so deeply that I couldn’t see it any more. The words on the page were floating at my face in this broken way, the sentences were unstringing themselves right before my eyes and when they reached my brain they no longer made sense*.

I needed a break. I thought about reading the news while I ate my peanut butter and jam sandwich, but realized that would just make me feel more fragmented. So I got out one of my poetry anthologies. A poetry anthology of a type. It’s Garrison Keillor’s selection of poems creatively called Good Poems (creative in that it’s un-creative). I read four or five poems, among them David Wagoner’s “Lost,” Stephen Dunn’s “A Secret Life,” Charles Bukowski’s “the way it is now,” and Anne Secton’s “Courage.” All of them were very good.

Then I went to Poetry Daily to read more poems. I went to their archives and found another excellent poem by Stephen Dunn, from June 14th (click here to read it, or just keep reading, I’m going to include it at the bottom because I liked it so much) and two poems by Stephen Dobyns (that’s how artistic types spell “Stephen”). I met both of those poets when I was 16, at a writing conference. At that time I wasn’t able to appreciate their poetry because I hardly read poetry then, I just wrote (crappy) poetry. I bought one of Stephen Dunn's books and had him sign it, because that’s what I thought I should do. Not because I cared. I care now and read the poems he’s been writing lately and think, wow.

It’s just sad that I couldn’t appreciate it when I was 16. Over the past 10 years I’ve read more poetry than anything else and I have to say, I don’t think a person can write good poetry without reading good poetry. I’m considering starting a blog dedicated to poetry. I’m not sure about copyright laws and stuff. I’ll have to find out about that. For now, I think I can get away with including just one poem by Stephen Dunn. Don’t be afraid, just read it.

The Kiss
She pressed her lips to mind.

— A typo

How many years I must have yearned

for someone's lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place

that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows

to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she's missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,

this is the wisest tongue
since the Oracle got into a Greek's ear,
speaking sense. It's the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.

She was in. We married as soon as we could.

Stephen Dunn
The Georgia Review
Volume LIX, Number 1
Spring 2005

*And that's why this entry barely makes sense, because words barely make sense. I'm barely scraping by right now.

p.s. I added a link on the right to an itunes mix I just made.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Gems About Mexico and the Answer to Your Burning Question

I don’t want to talk about the honeymoon anymore. Not that it wasn’t great, but I’ve moved on and so should you. It was last week’s news. But I will offer you these gems of information, things you should know about Mexico:

— “Hey man, you want to party tonight?” “Hey man, want some weed?” and “Want to get high?” are all legitimate questions you will be asked while in Mexico. On the street, on the beach, on the marina, in a box by a fox. Anywhere. No, this is not just me being silly, those videos you saw in elementary school about saying no to drugs (wherein some high schooler approaches kids in a playground and says in a weasely voice “Want to get high?” It was so unbelievable) are a reality. The proper response is to laugh really loud as though caught off guard. And then to continue laughing while you walk away, repeatedly saying “no” between laughs because they just don’t take no for an answer. Even if you are into getting high, these muchachos might be undercover agents. You don’t know. And I don’t really know, do they even bust people for selling drugs in Mexico (barring this one rare occasion)?

— While some (my co-workers) may argue the reason for my outrageous sunburn, the one I got in less than 30 minutes, is because I was close to the water, I argue that the real reason is because I was closer than usual to the equator. I might go for the water-proximity argument if the worst part of the sunburn wasn’t on my scalp, where my part is. But since my scalp is still peeling from that sunburn and I didn’t walk around Mexico with the top of my head pointed at the ocean or the pools, I simply can’t. The lesson? While the equator thing might be off (I haven’t looked it up, but it stands to reason. Equator = closer to the sun), it’s a good idea to wear sun block. Apply liberally and often (we wore sun block but didn’t re-apply often). Also, buy a hat to protect your scalp. A peeling scalp is very unsightly. Especially when you have dark hair, like me.

— Haggle. Name your price. Walk away when they refuse your price and if they don’t see the light, then it wasn’t worth it anyway.

That’s it. Remember those three things and you’ll do fine.

So the honeymoon news was last week. This week’s news is the answer to the second most popular question (the first is "How was the honeymoon?"): "How’s married life?" The answer: great. Thank-you.

Truthfully I can’t say that married life is much different than being committed to someone before marriage. The few differences are that Stoker and I can now sleep in the same bed without being cursed by our families and therefore we don’t have to go through the whole (sometimes agonizing) goodbye thing every night.

Before you’re married to someone you’re committed to, there’s this annoying ambivalence to your relationship most apparent in how others treat/see you. They’re not so sure. You’re relationship isn’t really real. You might feel like it’s real and valid and beautiful. But no one else sees it that way. You’re just sort of playing house until you’re married. I’m not saying this is how it is because that’s what I want, I’m just describing something I’ve seen around me. Well. Now we’re married. What changed isn’t so much me or how I feel about Stoker, what changed is really in the minds of others. At least that’s what I think, and that’s how it feels. Especially when someone asks me, “Well, how does it feel to be married?” Not much different, just more secure about being with Stoker and growing old together.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Breakfast at Girasoles

Breakfast at Girasoles
Originally uploaded by

The two of us in Mexico at the Hacienda Del Mar. Click on the picture and it'll take you to my photostream, which includes more photos from the trip. At the Hacienda Del Mar they called me Mrs. White. Crazy! All I can think of when I hear that name applied to me, is the board game, Clue.

Anyway, it was great. Did I mention that we pulled the wedding off without a hitch? We did. I didn't fall down the stairs, although the sandals I wore were completely flat (in other words, flats), so my dress dragged and of course there was no one carrying my train (because I didn't have one). The hem of the dress kept catching on my feet and I almost tripped myself. One hand carried the bouquet and the other was around my step-dad's arm so I couldn't lift the front of my dress. I was helpless and could only take teeny, tiny baby steps to avoid falling over myself. But apparently I was beautiful. That was good. At least I didn't end up being a ghoulish, ugly bride -- thanks to my genius sisters (mostly Kelly) who actually give a crap about make-up and doing hair. I don't know how it is that we come from the same mother*.

The whole thing is mostly a blur. I remember saying "I do" and I remember that Stoker said "I do." Those are the most important things about the night. So at least I won't go back on that promise and pretend like I didn't say "I do."

After the wedding we stayed in Salt Lake at the Hotel Monaco. We told them it was our honeymoon and so they upgraded us to a suite! They had leopard-print robes in the rooms, in case you forgot yours. So of course we posed in them, though I normally don't wear a robe. What a bother a robe is! You put it on, only to take it off almost immediately. I'd rather just go naked. Teasing, but seriously. Robe shmobe. Well anyway, that night we were too tired for anything but sleep (in case you pervert/voyeurs were wondering), though we still had the strength to pose in the leopard print robes for a few pictures (not in my photo-stream) and for Stoker to walk around saying stuff like, "My good man" because that's the kind of phrase a robe like that brings out in a person. I found it hilarious.

The next day we flew to Dallas and from Dallas to Los Cabos (it was about $1000 cheaper to do it that way). We got there at 8:30 pm, just as the sun set. At the airport, you exit onto the tarmac and walk into the airport that way. While some might find that annoying and cheap, I found it charming. After a million hours going through immigration and customs, we went to the car-rental agency. Apparently, and this is for any international travelers (but most specifically to Mexico), you have to buy insurance and also have $3000 available (cash or credit) to back up the car. That's in case you crash it and jump the border, I guess. So we said to them, "Go to hell," and didn't rent a car.

Providence was on our side and we were able to catch a ride right to our hotel (about 40 minutes away) with another, older couple (older = more credit). Ken and Barbara from Denver have been visiting Cabo San Lucas for about 3000 years. No really, 15 or 20 years, and they know it well. We had a nice chat on the way and they shared valuable bits of information with us, like that it's okay to drink the water at the hotel and restaurants, and that Poncho's has great food. We drank the water, but didn't end up going to Poncho's.

Our hotel, Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar, is on the corridor between San Jose and San Lucas, situated snugly on the beach. We didn't swim in the water because the brain-bashing waves break right on shore and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they could crush a skull on some hidden shelf of rock. Besides, the jelly-fish parts washing ashore made me nervous. What if my foot got tangled in a mass of jelly tentacles? Not even worth it. Especially with the great pools available at the resort. Pools with thatch-roofed outdoor bars and underwater barstools.

Booking web-sites such as and list the Sheraton resort as a 4-star joint. But the Sheraton has a plaque hanging behind the front desk that calls them a 5-star resort. As far as I could tell (and I'm not a connoisseur by any means) they were a 5-star place. My only complaint, and I figure this goes for most of Mexico, is that whole Mexican-minute thing. They can really live up to it. Before you jump all over me, calling me racist or something, I'd never even heard that reference until one of the Mexican waiters said it to me, as a joke. And it's rather true. A few times a waiter would come ask us if everything was okay and we'd ask for some more water or something. They'd never bring it. Another waiter would come ask us if everything was okay and we'd ask for some more water. They have this system down there, at the hotel anyway, where a few waiters cover your table. For example, Carlos would come introduce himself and say he and Jorge would be our waiters. Sometimes it worked. Other times it wouldn't. When you're paying a veritable arm and a leg for meals there, it should always work.

More on the honeymoon later.

*A joke. I really do know.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Back from Mexico

We got back from Mexico on Thursday night, but neither of us went to work on Friday. We thought it'd be nice to recuperate instead of trying to decompress while at work. We've been catching up on odds and ends all weekend and I haven't used the computer much. But we both go back to work tomorrow and then I'll write more about Mexico and the wedding, which, as you might have guessed, worked out just fine. I didn't fall down the stairs or anything. If I had, I would have written as soon as possible to let you know. I mean, I'd want you to share a good laugh with me and all the other wedding guests.

And by the way, the wedding went by like a blur. I hardly remember anything and we didn't even have alcoholic beverages. Honestly. I wish I could have talked to everyone and paid better attention to them. As it was, I might have only said three words to each guest, if that. My mom says you can never really enjoy your own wedding. Too bad. When my younger sister Cassi gets married, that will be better for me. I won't be the center of attention (not that I love being in the limelight or anything), but at least I'll be able to catch up with family and family friends.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Countdown Begins

Nothing clever here, today. Not that I'm clever. I mean, I'm not.

Anyway, nervous. Trying not to think about how I'll be walking down the aisle in just a few hours. My sister from Omaha flew in, and my sister who's been living in Palo Alto did too, with their husbands. So everyone's here.

We went to breakfast this morning at a diner called Ganny Annies. Luckily, my sisters had some presents for us to open there. Some black lacey thing from Victoria's Secret, condoms, and a Kama Sutra book. No, not embarrassing. Not embarrassing at all.

I don't know when I'll be back. Next Thursday, sometime. We'll be in Mexico for a week. Yes!!

If you miss my reading my posts, read the archive. Start with January, obviously. Thanks.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I was working on this great post about fortune cookies, because I got a few yesterday. But I'm not in the mood. Trust me, though, when it's done, it'll be great. You'll laugh. Okay, no, I'm sorry. I shouldn't promise that. It's like prefacing a story with, "Funny story...." like some people do. You build someone's expectations and then let them down. I won't do that to you, but I will finish the fortune cookie post later.

Right now I'm—to use a fantastic, rarely utilized expression (except by senior citizens, ladies who mix society with my grandma and who have names like Vida, Ruth Graham and Mildred)—a bundle of nerves. I can make light of it here, but I tell you what. My mom just called me to ask about some pillowcases. You see, she's changing the sheets on all the guest/queen beds for my sister's and their husbands. They're flying in for the wedding, and last night she was looking for the bed sheets' matching pillowcases. One of them was on my pillow and the other was in my dirty clothes. She told me she'd use some other sheets, or something, after I took the one off my pillow to give to her last night. So I told her I'd wash them tonight and then I put the pillowcase back on the pillow (what a charade!). This all happened last night.

So this morning she calls and asks where those pillowcases are. I tell her one of them is in my dirty clothes and the other is back on the pillow.

"Why'd you do that?" She asks.

"Because you told me you weren't going to use them."

"No I didn't." She responds. And her voice isn't fierce or anything. It's just firm, like she has video evidence that this isn't how the conversation went (if only life were like Arrested Development). But I nearly crumble. At that moment, I could have burst into tears. Burst, I tell you. Instead, only my will to fight crumples like a flan in the cupboard (to steal a great metaphor from a top-notch comedian). Under normal circumstances I would put up a considerable fight over who said what.

"Oh," I say, weakly, and swallow the lump in my throat.

And that's that. She impatiently asks where my dirty clothes basket is (hiding shamefully behind the brown, slat doors of my closet) and we end the call.

As you can plainly see from this story, I'm in no mind-set to contemplate the vagaries of the fortune cookie. You know? You think you're dealing with something just fine, like my father dealing with the death of his good friend Jim (my poor dad, he found Jim's body cold as a slab of ice in his apartment). My dad carried on as before, seemingly untouched by the death. Untouched, but snappish as a crab with quick bursts of temper here and there. So we all knew he wasn't doing so well about the death. He was, in a strange fashion, mourning.

Well, that's me. I guess. Death, marriage and moving are some of the highest stressors for a human. And I thought I was just fine—but I'm not. I feel like I could snap at any moment. I must reiterate that I'm not questioning my decision to marry Stoker. I love him. Adore him. He's my best friend and I can't think of a better companion to spend the rest of my life with. But shit. The wedding's tomorrow. I guess I'm stressed about it anyway.

Stay tuned (what?) for the fortune cookie post.