Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Love Letter

Dear Christmas Vacation,

Have I told you how much I love you? I really do. Seriously. This is a love that will last. I'm in it for the long haul. I'm not going to wine you and dine you and then dump you for some other vacation. Nope. The other vacations are great but you're the best. Number one in my heart. Always and 4-ever.

Remember how on Monday I stayed in my pajamas until 2 and watched old, sort of obscure Christmas movies on TV? That was really great. You're so good to me. And remember how on Sunday night I went to bed at 9, even though I didn't have to? Even though I could have stayed up until 2am if I wanted to. But I didn't want to. I wanted to go to bed at 9 and stay there until 9 the next morning, simply because, thanks to you, I had that option. That's why this relationship works so well. You give me the freedom to be exactly who I want to be. A Woman of Elegant Leisure.

Hey, tomorrow, let's go to Pasadena and hold hands while we window shop. Just because we can. I'll buy you a hot cocoa.

xoxo,
Rachel

Friday, December 21, 2007

Joy!

What's that? How many more links on my Post-it Note chain? None! That's right! I have no more links! (click heels, pump fist, whoo-hoo!) Angels are singing and the Christmas Blue Bird of Happiness is in my heart. In honor of this wonderful occasion I have composed a song (sung to Joy to the World. Imagine me singing gustily, with made up tap dance moves and lots of shimmying and jazz hands. As if there is any other way to imagine me.)

No more links on my Post-it chain
I cut the last one off!
At 3 o'clock today
I'm going to run away
And put my pjs on
And put my pjs on
And put and put my pjs on!

To add another layer of joy to this wonderful day I would like to share that the Knecht girls have once again choreographed another fantastic routine for the Knecht Family Christmas Extraveganza on Saturday night. Grandma Knecht loved having a talent portion of the Christmas party and it has traditionally been Gina on the piano and a few of us singing some Christmas songs. But about 4 years ago we decided to step it up and add costumes and choreography and now it's BIG BIG BIG! We have to out-do ourselves every year. It's tough but we always manage to pull it off. I can't give anything away but I will say that it may include some of the following moves: intense leaps, very difficult spins, a fountain, and a lift.

Joy to the World!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I've learned to whisper in her office

Things I have heard other patients say through the the vents of my doctor's office while I fight off her attempts to squirt yet another nasal spray up my nose:

1.) "Is it going to get any bigger?"
2.) "I've been peeing blood for 3 weeks now."
3.) "It made my toenail fall off."
4.) "The rash started on my back but now it's on my butt."

When I filled out the survey yesterday on how my visit was I wrote, "Very entertaining."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Our hearts will go on

I was going to tell you all about the move this weekend, how Dad and a few fellas from church did all the heavy lifting, and Mom did my laundry, and Liz beautifully arranged our living room ("Where will be put the ottoman?! It won't fit!! Despair, despair!" "Why don't you just switch the couches?" Genius!), and Laura organized my felt in rainbow colors AND arranged my books by my very neurotic specifications (children, adult, churchy, compilations, poetry, special books. All alphabetized by author.), and Katie bought me chocolate Hostess donettes, because what would a move be without donettes (answer: unbearable.). Thanks to all the lovely people who got me out and in by going up and down those many, many, many, many flights of stairs. Oy, the stairs!

But those details will have to wait because I read the following in the newspaper this morning and it needs to be shared with the world:
LAS VEGAS — For the final performance of “A New Day,” Celine
Dion’s show at Caesars Palace here last weekend, M J Wylie, 49, a
health-care consultant from Denver, decided to go formal. She wore a
floor-length black gown and a sparkly white shawl; around her neck was a silver
pendant in the shape of the show’s first logo, an elongated figure of a woman.
Inside her $3,400 Judith Leiber clutch, bought at the gift shop adjacent to the
theater and also bedazzled with the logo, were several autographed photos of Ms.
Dion with Ms. Wylie. It was an undeniably elegant ensemble; the only problem,
Ms. Wylie said, was that her dress hid her commemorative “New Day” tattoo.

If you read the article you will learn that she has seen the show 62 times and has estimates that she has spend $15,000 to $20,000 on her Celine habit.

Maybe it's because I don't think that Celine Dion would be any fun to see in Vegas unless she were 80 and dressed in a sparkly muu-muu but this is just so crazy and wonderful to me. I am baffled that someone would be so obsessed but I love, love, love that there are people like this in the world.

Like my co-worker's daughter who has Janine Garofalo tattooed on her leg. This is true dedication.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I really did try to plant those trees

Whenever someone starts out a conversation by saying, "I had the weirdest dream last night..." my mind starts to wander to more interesting places, like the cracker aisle at the grocery store, because believe me, Ritz crackers are way more interesting to me then what you dreamed about last night. Here's why: there's no response to other people telling you about a dream they had. They can say, "I dreamed I was in hand to hand combat with a giant gherkin," and all you can say is, "That's so weird," and only kind of mean it. Because it's not really that weird. It's a dream. They're suppose to be weird.*

So you see, on a personal ethics level I'm very hesitant to tell you about these dreams I've been having. But I think there's some significance to them so here you go. Feel free to think about your favorite food aisle if you're not that interested.

I've been having this recurring dream lately: I'm traveling around with about 20 people trying to get things done. I'm never by myself and there are usually a handful of people that I know and at least one celebrity in the group. We always have a list of errands we need to get done but we're somehow always sidetracked or diverted, like we intend to go somewhere but we always end up somewhere else. And we never travel by car. We're almost always on bikes or walking. For instance, last night I dreamed that I was with a large group that included Katie, Silvia, Valerie (It was an Appel-apalooza!) and Marley Matlin. We had a long list of things we had to get done, like go to the gym and take a yoga class, only the gym was packed with wall to wall people, like a refugee camp. Everyone had sweat bands on their heads and were huddled under dirty blankets. So we decided to ride our bikes up to the craft store to get embroidery floss but we ended up going by a park that we had to plant trees at, except that we couldn't because (and I'm not making this up) a polycarbonate substance was covering all the flower beds. I literally said in my dream, "It's a polycarbonate substance." I had to look up what a polycarbonate was this morning.

After I found that out I googled "dream interpretations" and got a load of links. I don't ever think about interpreting dreams because 1.) I don't often remember my dreams and 2.) they're usually more funny than weird and we all know that explanations always make things that are funny less funny. But because I've had a variation of this dream about once a month for the last year now I decided it was time I figured it out.

Here's what I found:

bikes = bright prospects
parks = enjoyable leisure
sewing (embroidery floss) = domestic peace
gym = material prosperity
errands = harmony and mutual understanding in my domestic sphere

Friends, this can only mean one thing. My Wealthy Benefactor is ON HIS WAY!!!!! I can finally live my life as a Woman of Elegant Leisure! Clearly, I will get to use his funds (after he buys me my top three luxury items**) to help people in the need (the sweat-banded refugees) and the deaf (Marley Matlin) and the parks and recreation department (tree planting). And it looks like Katie, Silvia, Valerie and that crowd of people I'm always with will get to join in the fun.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the polycarbonate substance means that my WB made his fortune in a chemical lab. Rich and smart! Dream come true.

*If you ever actually are in hand to hand combat with a giant gherkin then that would really be something. And please tell me about it. That is way more interesting then Ritz.

**1.) Slurpee machine, 2.) golf cart, 3.) chocolate fountain large enough to swim in.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Beware of Falling Anvils

There are two types of people in the world: those who pass on cutesy e-mails to everyone in their contact list and those who want an anvil to fall on those people. I'm in the latter group.

Christmas time is like...um...Christmas for that first group. I think everyday this week I've gotten an e-mail with some combination of flying teddy bear angels/dancing Christmas trees/talking reindeer all with Jingle Bell Rock playing in the background. Or I'm assuming because I usually delete these without even looking. I've seen enough of them to know that there is always a flying teddy bear angel wishing you Merry Christmas and pass it on or you'll get scurvy and DIE!

But I had to look at the one I got today because the subject was "Birthday Message for Jesus," and well, I didn't want to miss that. When I saw what it was I literally put my head down on my desk and sighed. Turns out it's an INVITATION TO HIS BIRTHDAY PARTY.

No, I will not pass this on to you. You can't make me. But here are a few highlights:

Attire: Come as you are... grubbies are okay. He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.

Refreshments: New wine, bread, and a far-out drink He calls "Living Water," followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world!

Party being given by His Kids (that's us!!)! Hope to see you there! For those of you whom I will see at the party, share this with someone today!

I'm officially throwing up now. And so...

A Royal Proclamation:

Any subject found passing on cutesy e-mails, especially those depicting the atonement as some neat party trick, will have an anvil fall on them.

Signed, The Queen o' the Universe

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And now I can say I gave it a shot...which is more than the players did.

Last night I did something I never do. I watched part of a basketball game. I don't like basketball. I like every other sport but basketball. I'll watch any other sport but basketball. (True story: On Sunday I was down at the fam's and we actually watched bowling. Mostly for laughs, but you understand.) But I thought, my tastes have changed over the years and I have discovered that things I thought I didn't like are actually pretty enjoyable. Like oatmeal and Dickens. So, the Clippers were on and I thought I'd give it a shot.

Nope. My tastes have not changed that much. Because here's what basketball is:

Throw in, dribble twice, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, shot, miss, rebound, foul, throw in, dribble twice to the other side, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, go for the hoop, miss, foul, free throw. Dribble, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, shoot, score, dribble, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, foul. Repeat. Near the end it's more like pass, foul, pass, foul, time out, pass, foul, time out, pass, pass, foul, foul, foul, foul, time out.

I lasted about15 minutes. Basketball is essentially freakishly tall people playing keep-away.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two Unrelated Open Letters

Dear Channel 13,

What you did last night to White Christmas was a crime, a shame, a disgrace! I expected it to be edited for time but you cut out ALL of the good musical numbers. The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing, Snow, Choreography, half of Minstrel Show – all gone! And what did you leave us? Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. The one song I always fast forward. Sure, you still kept in Abraham and Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me but that’s not enough. I think you owe Christmas an apology.

A little bitter,
Rachel


Deal Temporary Co-Worker,

Please stop talking to me. I’m serious. You’re talking too much. And entirely about things I don’t care anything about. I really mean it. I was pretty sure that I was doing the universal sign for I Don’t Care with my “Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh..” But you didn’t pick up on that. You’re driving me crazy.

Shh,
Rachel

Monday, December 10, 2007

31 'til You Die

Note: This has somehow turned into a Mormon-y post and I was thinking back and can't remember ever writing about Mormon issues specifically. And this got me worried. What if people are reading this blog and thinking, Hey, how come Rachel never writes about churchy issues? I bet she hates the church. I don't hate the church!!! I love the church! I don't know why things haven't come up before! Let's all be friends! So here you go. A Mormon-y post, just for you.

I went to a Single Adult activity on Saturday (for you 3 people who read this blog and don't know about the fun practices of the Mormons, there are two groups of single folk in the church, the Young Single Adults who are 18-30 and the Single Adults who are 31 'til you DIE. Which puts me in the same dating pool as my grandpa. Sigh.) It was never my intention to go to a S.A. activity until I was 50 and had more cats than friends. Which is to say that I have hope that I'll be married before I'm 50 and can avoid both the cats and the singles. But a friend of mine asked me to help out with the food and while I can say no to an invitation to attend, I can't say no to an invitation to help out. Because I'm a sucker. (Note to self: In the future avoid this friend like the plague! Possibly use the plague as an excuse.) So there we were. Me, Allison and Bryce (lovely friends my age whom I suckered into bringing food. Thanks pals! I owe you.) eating crepes with a bunch of widows and divorcees, all of them over 50.

I would like to point out that I don't ever feel sad or pathetic for being single. I know that a lot of people do. That a lot of people struggle with this sort of thing. I am not one of these people. I would love to meet a nice fella and get married and have wee little children who will color with me and can enjoy my very extensive children's book collection but I'm not crying myself to sleep over it.

But I have to say that the single adult program sort of makes me feel pathetic. If only because it feels like we're being patted on the head for not being married. "Here you go Singles. Here are some other Singles for you to play with. Don't you feel better now?" The whole intention of the single adult program I guess is to make us feel like we have a place to go where there are people who are like us. Like the Twilight Zone episode where that pretty lady has face surgery so she can look like the rest of the pig people she lives amongst, except that it doesn't work and they shipped her off to live with the rest of the pretty people. Only, you may remember, she didn't want to leave the pig people. THOSE were her people. Even though she didn't look like them she still belonged with them and didn't want to go with the foxy gentleman who came for her.

So I'm not married, which makes me different than 90% of the adults in my ward. But that doesn't mean that I don't belong with them. They're still my people! I love my ward. And it loves me. I have friends in my ward. Married friends. With actual spouses and children. And I belong to the Relief Society. I'm already a member of a group. I guess I don't see the need for another group. Especially when it's just the single people who have it. The church won't ever put on a special Christmas brunch just for young married mothers. Or for retired grandpas. And by contrast, I went to my ward's Christmas party that night and I felt way more comfortable there then I did with the 80 year old widowers.

And I know what you're saying, "Um, Rachel, how many times have you told us you're 80?" True. I am. And I actually do like chatting with the elderly, single or not. We can talk about knitting and PBS and our bad knees. It's not the people, you see. It's the program. I don't like that I've been corralled with a group of people simply because none of us are married. Mostly because that's exactly what it feels like. Corralled. Like we've all been wrangled into coming, especially considering how many phone calls I get asking me to come to the activities. How effective is the program if people have to be begged, or suckered in my case, into participation?

The night before the brunch I was talking to Allison and my roommate, who has admitted that she sometimes does feel pathetic that she's single, and who made a good point. It may not be for me, the singles program, but it may be exactly what other people need. Which is true. There were a couple of people there who seemed to be living it up. So, it's meeting the needs of some people. Which, once I got there, helped me to feel less pathetic. There I was, chopping ham, telling myself that the whole point of saying yes to this was because they needed my help. That's why I say yes to playing the piano and organ so often, even though I'm not very good at it or enjoy it very much. I say yes because I can and they need me. So the next time they ask for my help, I will say yes. But that doesn't mean I have to feel good about it.

The whole point of this post was to tell you that at the brunch a woman went into diabetic shock and they had to call the paramedics. And to confess that I probably won't make it into heaven, even with all of the ham chopping and organ playing, because while they were wheeling her away my thought was, "This is EXACTLY what I expected at a 31 'til you die activity. The paramedics."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

David Hasselhoff = Christmas!

You all saw the Dwight stocking I made for Casey.

Well, here's Camille's:


Oh man. I love this stocking so much! Making this was hours and hours of pure joy and hysterical giggling. I couldn't stop laughing when I cut out the speedo or put the hair on his chest or during all three attempts at the perfect hair-do. I want to quit my job and make Hasselhoff stockings all day long. I would love to take credit for the BRILLIANT idea but it was all Sam, the Original Idea Man. I owe you, Sam. Camille owes you. The World owes you.

My inspiration was this picture. I bet this was the inspiration for a lot of women.

And, in case any of you are feeling a bit squeamish that Camille is a missionary and that maybe so much manliness would be a distraction, I've made him a pair of pants:

That was Katie's idea. Seriously, my family - so clever and funny.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Looking for someone romantic and fun with a nice parole officer

I've always wondered how single women get hooked up with men in prison. Sometimes I come across newspaper articles, usually about a homicide, and the suspects' wife/lady-friend* would inevitably say, "He always did have a temper. Even when we were writing to each other while he was doing time, I could tell he had a short fuse." Initially I thought that maybe these women had a brother or a cousin "on the inside" who set them up. But I have since learned that any gal with a computer, a dream, and a healthy dose of self-loathing can get her very own inmate pen-pal. How, you ask? Inmate.com. Duh.

I was reading one of those articles (I'm not going to link to it because it's disturbing) and it turns out that the murderer in this case found his wife on inmate.com by posting that he was a "6-foot, 235-pound Albino gorilla with over 40 real nice tattoos. Can I get a 'lil bit of love from a lonely female?"

Lonely!? The women who married him must have been a leprous orphan with pink eye and bad b.o. to be lonely enough to want a guy like that. I wonder what exactly sold her on him - the 40+ real nice tattoos or the fact that he was serving 20 years for killing his own mother with a steak knife. What a catch. I'm fascinated as to what the thought process is for these women. How do they end up on that site? How lonely do you have to be to say, "Well, e-harmony didn't work out so I guess I'll try felons next." I personally can't think of any reason that would get me to look there (Side note: I didn't initially believe that it was a dating service for criminals and I really didn't want to go over and check, but because I was writing about it I wanted to make sure so I did and then promptly left because it made me feel desperate and sad and dirty. There I saved you the trouble.) but my feeling is that it's there because of a demand. There must be women out there who actually want to date someone in prison.

So, I think it needs to be said...

Dear Women Who Are Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Namely Prison:

Believe me when I tell you that I know how hard it is for a single gal. I'm a 32 year old single Mormon woman, which means that I'm fishing in a dating pool of about 3 eligible men and 150 men who are weird and/or living at home. Isn't it hard enough to find a decent fella - one who will respect you and love you and bring you hot chocolate when you have cramps - without having to worry that he'll have a bad day and kill the neighbors? You're better than that. Go on one of those singles cruises. You can simultaneously work on your tan and increase your chances of not being on Cops.

Solidarity sisters!
Rachel

* The term lady-friend makes me laugh like a loon! I use to work with an older gentleman who spent his days cutting out obituaries (I spent my days cutting out wedding announcements. His was clearly the better job.) The fact that he cut out obituaries has nothing to do with this. I mention it because it's funny, natch. But he would often use the term "lady-friend" and every time it made me giggle with glee. He was a great guy. Remind me to tell you about the time I convinced him to join us in Overall Day.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hey Japan, do me a solid

A little while ago I posted the morning schedule of my Giant 4 Year Old Fake Sneezing Neighbor. Here's mine:

Alarm goes off. I hit the snooze and go back to sleep. Alarm goes off. I hit the snooze and go back to sleep. Alarm goes off. If I could muster the strength I would throw my alarm out the window but instead I turn the alarm off. Open my eyes. Sometimes I turn on the news to see if the Japanese have invaded West Covina. I don't want to have to drive to work for nothing. Once I curse the Japanese for their lack of initiative I go back to sleep. Wake up in a sudden panic. What time is it? How come my alarm didn't go off? Where are the Japanese when you need them? Rush. Rush. Rush. Rush. Rush. Rush. Rush. Decided it's not worth it to do my hair. Rush. Rush. Rush. Rush. Rush. Leave the apartment without breakfast and without packing a lunch.

Which brings us to 11:30 and me thinking that the Japanese owe me and should bring me a sandwich.

Friday, November 30, 2007

But I really need that drawer full of t-shirts I NEVER wear.

Did you all see that Oprah? The one with the pack rat with the house full of so much junk that they could fill a 10,000 sq.ft. warehouse with the stuff that wasn't covered in mold. Well, I saw it and it scared me to death because I totally have the hording gene. I have stuff all of my place that I'm POSITIVE I will need some day so I hold onto it, just in case. But clearly I'm never going to use it. I bet I could live the rest of my life and not ever need my notes from high school German.

Most of you know I'm making the arduous move from Apartment 210 to the exotic and far away land of Apartment 103 (Benefits: one less flight of stairs, closer to the Dumpster, farther away from Flo the 90 year old Apartment Manager who calls me every time I leave my balcony door open and there are more than 3 people in my apartment.) It's not a big move but I've lived in 210 for 4 years now and I've accumulated a lot of stuff. Loads and loads of stuff. The felt alone would astound you. But I'm taking advantage of the move and I'm getting rid of everything (Well, not the felt* (are you crazy?) or the books. The books stay.) I took the advice of the guy on Oprah who organized the pack rat's house and every night this week I've filled one bag of stuff to throw away and one bag of stuff to give away. Gosh it feels good. You should totally do it. You feel very Zen.

I attacked my purses last night. I have a problem with cleaning out my purses. The problem being that I don't actually do it. But I like to switch out every couple of months and instead of cleaning out the old bag when I make the switch I just take out my wallet, a notebook and planner and leave everything else behind. So about every 6 months or so I clean out the purses and find, besides 10 pound of receipts and gum wrappers, a treasure trove of useful stuff. Like pens and lip balm and tampons. Exactly how many tampons does a girl need in one bag? I apparently need 8.

I'm having a major purging of the apartment tomorrow, where I am sure to find even more tampons. I'm going to sally forth** and attack my bed room. Gone is the box of crochet books I haven't looked at in 3 years! Gone is the box of stamps I never use! Gone are half of the clothes in my closet! Gone is the bin full of cheap yarn! (Oh blast, I just convinced myself to keep the cheap yarn. I can make granny squares blankets and donate them to charity.) But gone is the bin of scrap fabric I've been holding onto with the plan of making a scrap quilt. That quilt is never going to get made.

But here's the thing. I'm totally strong now but I promise you that at about 4 tomorrow afternoon I'm going to be tired and hungry (because I tend to forget to eat when I'm cleaning my room) and weak and I will have convinced myself that I really, really need to hold on to every single birthday card I've ever received from anyone. So I'm going to need your help. I need you all to send me a text about that time that says, "Get rid of it, Rachel!" This should give me the strength to go on.

As would a plate of brownies, so, you know, if you're in the neighborhood....

Oh, and if you're interested in said crotchet books, scrap fabric or clothes in the closet, come on over and rummage before Goodwill gets it all.

* You are going to DIE when you see the stocking I'm working on for Camille. I can't wait to show you.

** I guarantee you that Katie is demonstrating how to sally forth right now. I am too. If you'd like to join in feel free. It's like a slow shimmy and you have to say "sally forth, sally forth" in a very saucy voice.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That's fine. I guess I'll pay for the guacamole myself.

Dear Man Who Was Standing Behind Me in Line at Chipotle Last Night,

Some line, huh? I mean, it wasn't the longest line I've been in at Chipotle but it was a substantial wait. Long enough to make me worry a little that I would miss A Charlie Brown Christmas. That show always makes me want to hang garland and drink cider. Thankfully, Dancing With the Stars was on at 9 so I wasn't in too much of a panic (Side note #1: I'm not going to lie. I was a little disappointed that Helio won. I like him but I've been rooting for Mel B. all season because 1.) She was the best dancer, 2.) Her partner Maks is pretty nice to look at and by nice I mean WOW!!! and 3.) She's a Spice Girl which should automatically make her the obvious winner. But whatever.)(Side note #2: Have you seen Spice World? You should totally see it? It's awesome! But you should wait until after 10pm because it's one of those movies that is better when you're a little tired. And fast forward the part with the aliens. It's lame, which, obviously, is saying something.)

The line was also long enough for me to think on several occasions - if this man behind me gets any closer he had better offer to pay for my tacos. I should get guacamole, just in case. You were standing REALLY close to me. Let me demonstrate what I mean by REALLY: at one point I did a quarter turn to kind of give you a hint that you had breached my personal boundaries, and also to make sure that you weren't creepy looking (Fact: There is a difference between having your personal space invaded by a cute guy and having it invaded by a mouth breathing skeeve) and my shoulder brushed against your chest. That's REALLY close. And also kind of awkward.

Incidentally, you weren't creepy looking. You were actually kind of cute in a slightly aging rockabilly way, like you were at one time really into the Stray Cats and then decided to grow up and get a job at your uncle's morgage company, even though you still sometimes like to cuff the sleeves of a white t-shirt and put a cigarette in it when you’re puttering around the house. Your pompadour was a dead give away, and while it reminded me of the Fonze I’m going to have to knock you down for that. Although you get bonus points for wearing a very nice sweater. Cashmere? Had I been wearing shorter sleeves I wouldn't need to ask. But this is entirely beside the point, which is, even if you were Scary’s partner Maks, you were still standing too close. Because we’re strangers. We don’t know each other. I don’t even let my friends stand that close, as in close enough to feel your breath on my neck. Knights of Columbus!

By the time I got up to the counter I pretty much thought we were going steady. So did the workers because all the way down the line it was, “What can I get for you folks?” “Cheese for both of you?” “You guys want any chips?” Um, if me bumping into you wasn’t an indication that maybe you could back it up a little then that certainly should have been. But it wasn’t, because by the time we got up to the register the guy there said, “Alright, tacos and a burrito,” and when I said, “No, just the tacos,” he said, “So, your paying separately?”

Yeah, we sure are.

That’s fine if you want to be my Pretend Boyfriend (although you probably should have waited until you got a full look at me because believe me, I was not looking my best last night.) but the least you could have done was offer to get me a soda. You’re not the only one in this relationship, buddy. Oh, and if your interested and meet the qualifications (meaning generous, rich, and in contact with a good Slurpee machine vendor), the position of Wealthy Benefactor is still available. I noticed that you got the guacamole too.

Still a little uncomfortable about it,
Rachel

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Very Rockefeller Thanksgiving

Here's the thing about having Thanksgiving at the beach - it only perpetuates the idea that all Southern Californians live like Rockefellers in mink lined flip-flops. Well, I can guarantee you that had I been a Rockefeller, I would have had a much warmer sleeping bag.

This was our second year of Thanksgiving up at the beach and I have to say that it really does feel like the lap of luxury when you're sitting on the beach and eating green bean casserole while the sun sinks into the ocean. But that's about as fancy as it gets when you're living in a tent. Sure, other people have RVs but we like to honor the Native American participants in the first Thanksgiving by staying in our very own wig-wams. Except that their tents probably were made of animal skin and kept some heat in. Ours were made of, I don't know, tissue paper maybe. Possibly the Ephemeral Turkey Spirits of Thanksgiving Past. Both of which retain as much heat as the ice crystals that formed on my nose. What I'm saying is that it was very cold at night. The kind of cold that makes you wonder why you always think camping is going to be super fun and adventurous, when really the only adventure you're having is anticipating your bladder exploding because you refuse to get out of your almost-warm sleeping bag cocoon.

So it was cold at night. But boy did the days make up for it. The days were exactly what makes people in the Frozen North kick themselves for not living here. Warm sun, no clouds, no wind (like ALL the weather people predicted) and the Blue Bird of Happiness nestled in the hearts of everyone on the beach, which, believe it or not, was not that many people. (Dear People Who Camped at Carp for Thanksgiving But Spent Their Days Playing Horseshoes at the Camp Ground Instead of on the Beach: I know you know how hard it is to get a site for Thanksgiving. We all united in spirit 6 months ago and fought for those sites. We were victorious! And yet, you were not fully enjoying your victory by being on the beach. How come? You know, you can play horseshoes on the beach. We played all sorts of games out there: bocce, paddle ball, catch, Frisbee. If you wanted to just hang out under the shade of your awning all day why didn't you get a spot at some RV park in Santa Barbara or something? Don't waste the hard earned victory. You owe it to the poor saps who didn't get a spot. Next time, I want to see you frolicking! Sincerely, Rachel).

I mentioned to one of my Sunday School kids that we did Thanksgiving at the beach and from underneath all of his hair he said, "That's not Thanksgiving." Um, I beg to differ. If Thanksgiving means being thankful and eating a lot of food then we were successful on both counts. Thanks to our pioneer heritage we Knechts have Dutch ovens practically growning in our gardens and you would be amazed at all the things you can cook in them. Things like the above mentioned green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes, and rolls, and rolls and more rolls. Oh, the rolls. I was really thankful for those rolls. I informed the kid that we should not be suckered into believing that Thanksgiving has to look a certain way (i.e. - a swirl of leaves blowing outside the window, the smell of snow in the air, uncles in sweaters.) We're never going to have that Thanksgiving (well, maybe uncles in sweaters, but let's cross our fingers it doesn't happen. Uncle Jeep in a sweater? The world would stop spinning.) and that's okay. We can still be thankful at the beach. And eat our weight in carbs. Did I mention the rolls? And the turkey fryer? Because I'm really thankful for the turkey fryer. Best turkey I've ever had. Better than any Rockefeller ever ate.

And I can promise you that my family is more fun than the Rockefellers. Yeah, that's right Rockefellers, we eat fun for breakfast and follow it up with hilarious hi-jinks and left over pie! There are times when I'm sitting around with the fam - aunts and sweaterless uncles, cousins with their kids, brothers and sisters, parents and the Golden Child - laughing until my face explodes, and wonder how I got so lucky to be a part of it all. They're on the top of my Thankful List.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

I hereby proclaim that subjects are no longer allowed to refer to Thanksgiving as Turkey Day. Anyone found calling it Turkey Day will be forced to eat nothing but cold oatmeal with no brown sugar while everyone else enjoys the Thanksgiving feast.

Signed, The Queen o' the Universe


PS. I'm off to the beach, where there are no crying parents, no dismal offices, no 5:30 alarm clocks, no traffic, and no Internet which means no blog posts. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'll think of you as I eat pumpkin pie while gazing at the lovely Pacific.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Buckshot

Just a few thoughts that individually don't quite equal a full post but can ban together and wear matching jackets that say "November 19, 2007" on them.

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Behold the Golden Child:





Yep, the funk is gone. How can you be cranky when there are cheeks like these to kiss. Impossible.

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Part of my job description today is tissue-passer-outer. I had two moms break down on me this morning. Sobbing and sniffling and wailing about the INJUSTICE of the schools and their FEELINGS were HURT and they're so CONFUSED!!!! It got so bad that one of our school psychs put this note on my desk:



Buck up ladies! Pie is just around the corner!

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What are your thoughts on Christmas before Thanksgiving. I'm opposed. Sure, I love Christmas but hearing "This is My Grown-up Christmas List" a week before Thanksgiving puts me in a Scrooge-y mood. We get a whole month plus 3 days this year to celebrate (the most that is possible) and there are already Christmas lights up everywhere.

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Because our office kitchen temperature usually hovers around negative-too-cold-to-sit-still-without-your-fingers-freezing and because some people I work with don't understand the universal sign of "I'm reading so please don't bother me,"* I usually go out to my car on my lunch break and listen to Jonesy's Jukebox. Dominic Monaghan (one of the wee little hobbits) was sitting in for Jonesy today and I have to say that he has some fine taste in music. Radiohead and Paul Simon. Nice. They must have good satellite service in the Shire.

*This is not to say that I don't like talking to people on my lunch break. If I'm not reading then please chat with me. But if I'm reading when you come into the kitchen I'm not doing it because I had nothing better to do while I waited for you to talk to me. I actually read because I like to and I'm probably in the middle of a really good part so shh.

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Only one more link on my Post-it Note Thanksgiving chain. Wahoo!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Funk

Things that should get me out of the funk I have found myself in today:

1.) Cheery visit with Liz and Liz tonight
2.) My bed is nice and cushy and is calling to me even as I type. Listen, you can hear it... (rachel....rachel...come to me.)
3.) It is sunshiny outside but not hot like it has been
4.) Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow which will include...
a.) Trip to the gym, because nothing cures a funk like 45 minutes of death on the eliptical
b.) Holy French Toast. In case the eliptical fails me
c.) Christmas shopping, which I actually feel like doing
d.) Amanda's birthday, which will necessitate a phone call to her which always cheers me up (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!)
e.) The triumphant arrival of Sam, Stacy, and Ben the Blessed Nephew (accompanied by Katie) from Idaho-Land of the Spud!

But until all of those things happen I'm going to do the dishes. Doing the dishes has a very healing affect on me. Be gone funk!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Don't Own Flag Pants

Really? Did everyone but me know that it's the law that we have to put our hand over our heart when the national anthem plays? Standing up and removing your hat, I knew, but hand over the heart? No idea. I thought that was just for the pledge. I've noticed lately that more and more people were doing it but I just kind of assumed it was a by-product of the war.

Who's with me on this? Who remembers a time when most people didn't put their hand over their heart for the anthem? Anyone? Mrs. Boyd, my 1st grade teacher, had us sing the national anthem every single morning and not once did we put our hands over our hearts. And you would be crazy to call Mrs. Boyd unpatriotic (we sang This Land is Your Land every morning too. Mrs. Boyd = America. She was also from Punxsutawney, PA - Home of the Groundhog, which means that Mrs. Boyd = Awesome.)

It really bothers me when people use patriotism as a bullying tactic. Like you can't possibly love your country if you don't shout it from the top of your memorial flag pole in front of your house. Do we really believe that Obama hates that flag? I can guarantee that about half of those people who are criticizing him have a pair of American flag pants in their closet. How much do you respect the flag if you sit on it every 4th of July?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Very Schrute Christmas

When your kid brother is spreading the good word through the jungles of Brazil he deserves a whiz bang stocking.

Behold:




Whiz bang in the sense that it's Dwight and Dwight is awesome. Pay no attention to the shoddy workmanship. My talent is always in the idea, not the execution.

Now, I just need to come up with another whiz bang stocking for Camille, who is spreading the good word on the Arctic Banks of Lake Erie. Or, as some people like to call it - Cleveland. Oh! I got it. Wait for it...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Veteran's Day

To my favorite veteran!

In honor of Grandpa Knecht, who can tell more war stories than your grandpa, here's his favorite joke:

What do you call a row of rabbits walking backwards?

A receding hare line.

Ha!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A morning full of fake sneezes

We all have our morning routines. Here's my 4 year old monster-child neighbor's:

5:45 - Wake up
5:46 - Begin banging on the wall
5:52 - Start screaming that it's time to get up
6:00 - Finish screaming and get into the shower
6:01 - Fake sneeze
6:05 - Fake sneeze
6:08 - Practice break dancing routine
6:12 - Fake sneeze
6:13 - Fake sneeze
6:15 - Practice WWF moves
6:16 - Body slam rubber ducky
6:17 - Body slam again
6:18 - Fake sneeze and body slam at the same time
6:20 - Use bathtub as a Slip n Slide
6:22 - Start screaming that it's NOT time to get out of the shower
6:25 - Get out of shower
6:30 - Sneak out of the apartment and knock on door
6:31 - Giggle as mom yells about sneaking out of the apartment
6:35 - Brush teeth and fake sneeze
6:40 - Begin exiting the apartment
6:41 - Return to apartment for forgotten item
6:42 - Head down the stairs
6:43 - Return to apartment for another forgotten item
6:44 - Head down the stairs
6:45 - Run back up the stairs just because
6:46 - Back down the stairs
6:47 - Scream while getting into the car
6:48 - Fake sneeze out the window.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dear Egypt, Forget it. Love, Rachel

I got sucked into watching Globe Trekker last night. This is not unusual. I get sucked into watching a lot of things on TV, especially shows on PBS, because I'm 80 and very susceptible to commercial free shows. Because I have big dreams of acquiring a Wealthy Benefactor who will finance my three year trip around the word you would think that travel shows would do it for me. And they do, except that sometimes Globe Trekker has the opposite affect. Sometimes they go to places that completely turn me off to traveling. Places like the Vast Barren Desert of Egypt - Home of Sand, Sand, and More Sand. With a Side of Sand. And Some Scenic Views of Piles of Sand. The host, Megan, started out in Cairo, which seems amazing. Cairo - I want to go to. Cairo in January. But Cairo is a very small part of Egypt. The rest of the place looks like the bottom of my feet after a week of beach camping. I found this out because Megan left Cairo for a five day jeep ride through the uninhabitable desert on her way down to Luxor. Great Gravy! Five days through the desert in a jeep that did not appear to have air conditioning on unpaved roads. Driving and driving and driving. And then more driving. And then stopping to dump the sand out of your ears and then back in the jeep for more driving. Um, could someone please pass me some water, I'm feeling a little parched? And possibly one of those hemorrhoid donuts. And a shotgun.

My theory about desert driving is this: roads in deserts aren't actually roads but treadmills and the scenery you're seeing isn't real. It's a projected loop of desert scenery shown on giant movie screens to give you the illusion that you're driving through the desert but in reality you're not going anywhere. You're stuck in the desert forever. You're going to die there and jackals will come and eat your face.

At the beginning of the trek Megan visited an Australian Coptic hermit who lived in the desert mountains of Some Egyptian Place That Wasn't Cairo who said that the reason why he chose that life was because he had a vision after his mother died that told him to. But I actually think he stayed there because he couldn't bear the thought of driving through the desert anymore. That 20 years in a cave was better than 5 days of sand in your mouth.

Seriously, what does it take to get some water around here?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

So close

Knights of Columbus! I worked hard this morning. I mean, really hard. Hard like I looked up at the clock and 3 hours had whizzed right by. I got so much done. I've had the same 3 piles of work on my desk for weeks now and I managed to get one of them entirely down. Hooray for me! I was feeling really impressed with myself. Like, let's pat Rachel on the back and bake her a cake and give her a raise because clearly she's the World's Best Worker. And then my boss came in and said, "Where are my folders?" Oh poo. The one and only thing I absolutely had to get done this morning I completely forgot about.

Sigh.

On the very bright side: my lunch is still here (this time in the spec. ed. dept. mini fridge disguised as a container of ricotta cheese) and bonus - someone brought in gingerbread cookies. It is almost impossible to feel defeated when there are gingerbread men heads to bite off.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Grumble

I was going to tell you all about the fun Halloween party Katie, Allie, Lindsay R. and I had and how I went as a bee keeper with yards and yards of tulle stapled to a hat. And all about the Chino High School Band Review and Invitational, about how much my family loves parades because there are so many things to laugh at. About the boy majorette who threw a fit along with his baton because the flag girls weren't listening to him. And about the girl who looked like she decided that morning to join the flag team and perform in the field show even though she didn't know the routine (like she was Bill Murray in the Man Who Knew Too Little, only less funny and more tragic). About our tradition of bringing hot chocolate to the field show and making friends with our neighbors. About how the man in front of us would not stop playing with his wife's hair. How Mr. Bowden, band dictator, not only acknowledged us but stopped and chatted, as if we hadn't been sworn enemies for the last 20 years. I was going to tell you about how I almost passed out at the organ yesterday at church because of all the left over funeral flowers on the stand, bursting with those nasty lilies that stink, how I had to leave Relief Society early because I was gagging on their smell. I was going to mention daylight savings time and how much I love the "fall back" time of year, even though I'm opposed to daylight savings time in general and how congress changed the weekend specifically. There would have been tales of the Gold Child, the Blessed Nephew, Heir to the Knecht Silver, how sometimes he can't hold up the weight of his giant head, how he's so close to crawling, how he talks to himself when he's lying in his crib, how he's the Cutest Baby Ever. I was going to write about Aunt Vickie's rolls. Delicious, buttery rolls hot from the oven. Rolls that taste like angels made them while singing about daisies and kitties.

But I'm not going to write about any of these things now because someone stole my lunch out of the office refrigerator and I'm cranky.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Halloween Miracle!

I've never been much of a plant person. I like them but I don't ever think, "I bet a plant would look great there." My thoughts are usually along the lines of, "That spot could really use a disco ball." But this year I seemed to have started a Home for Abandoned Plants because friends and family have moved and left all their foliage with me. First Amanda moved and left me a few, then my neighbor Sandee, the Plant Lady, moved and left me more plants than a girl should ever have, and then Gina and Chris moved and, well, when it's between your tv and your plants, your tv is always going to win the trip up to Utah in the back seat. I went from having 1 plant to having 20.

Well, there was a hit put out on my plants over the summer while I was away taking care of Maynard's bladder problem and counting the Duke's surfing tchotchkes. When I got back I found most of them whithering in the heat, all sad and droopy and brown, some very near death. I was kind of heart broken because I'd grown so attached to them and worked really hard to keep them alive even though I'm not naturally gifted in that area. But seeing them in such a miserable state got me feeling all E.R.-ish and I said, "Not on my my watch!" and got the defibrillators out. Well, actually, I got fresh potting soil and some fertilizer, but you get the picture. I trimmed all of them down to wee stubs and replanted and fed and watered them and put them in sun-shiny places and said a little prayer and then waited.

And waited. And waited some more. Gosh plants take a long time to come back to life.

Well, yesterday I checked on them and behold the miracle:



Alright, I know it's just a geranium, and that geraniums are pretty resilient but you should have seen the carnage back in September. This was nothing but gnarled ugly twigs. And now look at it. Full of hope and promise and possibly aphids, all ready for the mild California autumn and winter.

Now if only my one original plant would just look a little hardier.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Got a bad back? Move to AZ

A recap of the Excellent Arizona Adventure (in pictures):

On the way out we came across our plan for December 13th. Any man named Joan Sebastian who has a mustache like that should definitely be headlining at San Manuel Indian Casino. Am I right?

Notice how the sky is all gray? Those aren't clouds my friends. No, that's smoke.



Heather celebrated her first trip to Hadley's. If you're looking for dates you go here. We were hoping that they meant the other kind of dates but it was still worth a stop.



We went to this hokey western themed place called Rawhide. The most exciting part about it was that they played the song rawhide when you walk in. Fortunately we are the type of girls who have fun wherever we go. I've decided I'm going to quit my thankless job and become a prospector.





My new goal is to get Andrea to put something funny on her head every time we go out in public. You'd be surprised how successful I've been at this. Heather found the buffalo hat first and put it right on. It took a little convincing to get Andrea to put her horse hat on too. I love how their hair matches the hats and looks like it could be part of it.

We found ourselves at the ASU homecoming parade. Andrea works there and she showed us around. Everyone at ASU has 1.) a bike and 2.) a Paris Hilton fixation. All the girls looked just like her (i.e. skanky).

These fans were just laying out there for us to take. Or maybe they were just laying out there for alumni to take at the luncheon they had set up that we happened to walk by. Either way, thanks ASU!






You may not have known this but the greater Phoenix area is populated entirely with chiropractors. This was one of, oh about 20 offices we saw just in a 30 minute drive. Most of them are emergency chiropractic offices. My theory: everything is brown in AZ, from the landscape to the houses to the buildings, and people, especially all the elderly who are blinded by the fiery sun, get disoriented and they fall and hurt their backs. When I worked for Dr. Mintzer at the animal hospital he use to call chiropractors chiro-QUACK-ters. Ha! Oh, that Dr. Mintzer. Such a funny, funny guy. Funny like a freezer full of frozen euthanized dogs (which, I'm not going to lie, is funnier than you think. Certainly funnier than Dr. M.)



We went out to dinner with Cynde and Ryan, who were so horrified by each other's faces that they hid them from the camera. It's okay, folks, don't be afraid.














My dream came true at dinner. I love those little kiddie coloring activities that they give out at restaurants and they actually sat us right next to the basket. JACKPOT!!! I liked to think they left them there for us to take, just like the alumni association left those fans









To sum up: it was a wonderful trip. Andrea was the perfect hostess and Heather was the perfect road trip companion. I didn't once feel like driving into a ditch on the way out there.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Flip-Flopping

Dear Rudy Guliani,

This morning I turned on NPR and almost turned it right off because the political pundit on there sounded like he had a major glandular problem that produced more saliva than his mouth was able to handle (Intra-Letter Letter: Dear NPR, Could you PLEASE stop putting people with speech impediments on the air. I don’t know if they have faces for radio but they certainly have voices for miming. Sincerely, Rachel) I'm glad I held out, even with images of slobbery microphones running through my head, because I learned something about you that pretty much cinched your fate with me. I was upset with you for taking up with the NRA to get the republican vote after you stood up to them while running for NYC mayor. But I learned this morning that you rooted for Boston in the World Series and that is just wrong. I like Boston, I was rooting for them myself, but you should not be. You’re a Yankees fan.

Flip-flopping on your policies is distasteful but expected. Flip-flopping on your team, even if your team are the Hated, Evil, Torre-Dumping Yankees, is despicable. Or, as the pundit would have said, dethpicable.

Disappointed,
Rachel

Friday, October 26, 2007

I love you but...

Dear California,

I'm taking a vacation from you this weekend. I still love you. You'll always be my #1. But this week has been a rough one and you have a lot to do with it. All of these fires you have going on are making people really cranky and I need a break.

It's just a shame that Arizona seems like a saner choice than you right now.

Please get back to normal, will you.

Hugs and Kisses, Rachel

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I wish I didn't have to keep writing these letters

Dear Parent Who 5 Minutes After I Hung Up On For Screaming Like a Maniac Came Down to My Office to Scream at Me Some More:

I beg to differ that I was rude. I would have been rude if I had said the following: "You're a ignorant jerk who deserves to be locked up. You desperately need psychological help. You're out of control and should not be allowed in public and if you yell like that one more time I will call the police because if this is the way you act in public I'm horrified to think how you act at home around your wife and children. If you think Mexican-Americans are so oppressed maybe you should step up and be a man and talk about this rationally instead of hollering about '500 years of oppression from the Spaniards killing the Aztecs all the way to you white people giving my daughter detention because she's brown.' Your daughter threw an object at a classmate and she was rightly punished for it. Maybe if she had a better example of how to properly resolve conflict she wouldn't have done it. Instead she has you, someone who makes a fool of himself in public by screaming about injustice when all that happened was your daughter had to stay after school for 30 minutes. You should be ashamed of the way you acted towards me and our receptionist and everyone else here in the office. The only person who was rude today was you. Oh, and I know that you were trying to sound intelligent but 'malcontent' is a noun, not an adjective. And fustrated isn't a word."

See, that would have been rude to say. It's all true, but I'm a professional and I was brought up better than that. And besides, I was never given the chance to say anything, rude or not. That was why I hung up on you. I let you rave on like a lunatic for 5 minutes and every time I tried to explain the situation you just kept on screaming. I can't help you if you won't let me. I also do not have to take being yelled at, especially when you're accusing me of being a racist. And the reason why I walked away from you was because I thought for a split second that you were going to hit me. That's how out of control you were. I deal with a lot of angry parents every day but I've never felt that I was in danger of being hit by any of them. You need help. And a good dictionary.

Disturbed,
Rachel

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Proclamation to the World!

Henceforth, no person shall be allowed to talk on a cell phone while doing bathroomly things. Any person found in violation shall have to 1.) Flush said cell phone down the toilet, 2.) Clean said toilet, and 3.) Apologize for being so disgusting. All cell phone priveledges shall be stripped and a sign shall be placed around the offender's neck that says, "I talk on the phone while I pee. I'm gross!"

Signed,

Rachel, Queen o' the Universe*

*I have not used the Queen o' the Universe title in some time but I feel like it's necessary if I'm making a proclamation. You don't have to kiss my ring or anything. Although a cookie would be nice.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm It.

I've been tagged by my cousin Karina (Hi Karina! Can't wait for the baby!)

Here are the rules:

1. The player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.
2. At the end of the post, the player tags 6 people and posts their names, and then goes to their blog and leaves them a comment, letting them know they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog for the rules.

1.) I'm afraid of stairs. This is because I'm constantly falling on them, both going up and coming down. I could take you on a tour of BYU and show you all the staircases that I have fallen on. I try not to show it because I don't want to look like a baby but whenever I walk down stairs I'm always a little nervous because I'm sure that this is going to be the time I fall and break my neck and become an invalid.

2.) The sound of people chewing makes me want to tear my ears off. I think this is one of my mutant powers that I have to harness. But until I do, it's a killer. And I'm not talking about people who chew with their mouths open. This sends me over the edge of insanity, but it's pretty universally agreed upon that it's rude and disgusting. (Always. It is never not rude and disgusting. Don't do it. I mean it. And please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don't talk with food in your mouth. It is never appropriate. Especially on the phone. I've got to stop talking about this because I'm starting to have anxiety. Serenity Now!) I'm talking about the sound of people chewing with their mouths closed. Poor, unsuspecting people just eating their breakfast, who don't even realize that my soul is dying listening to them eat their Grape Nuts (this was every morning for four years while eating breakfast with dad before seminary). They're not even chewing loudly. A normal person wouldn't even notice you chewing a banana but to me it's like you have a microphone in your mouth that is connected to an amp in my ear and every chomp and squish is magnified. I'm okay in groups. The conversation usually masks all the chewing. It's the one on one that gets me. There have even been a couple times at work when I'm by myself in the lunch room and the radio isn't on and I've heard myself chewing my sandwich and had to stop eating. See, it's not you, it's me. I'm the freak. Although I'm not alone. Casey has the same problem. Shout out to Brazil!!

3.) I like my freckles. I think they're cute. I like it when I go to the beach and they really pop out.

4.) I still want to be an astronaut when I grow up. Since I was a kid I've wanted to go into space and whenever someone would ask what I wanted to be I would say an astronaut. My plans were foiled when I realized that my best chances for becoming one was to either be a scientist or join the military. My hope is that one day NASA will be looking for someone to write funny anecdotes from the International Space Station.

5.) I love maps. I want to wallpaper my apartment in them. Several years ago I decided that I needed to learn where all the countries in the world were and not just be able to tell you their general location but be able to pinpoint them on a blank map with no borders. I'm working on learning all the capitals of the world now. I also love geology, you know rocks and plate tectonics, that sort of stuff. I think it's fascinating to see how the earth was formed. I think I'm secretly a science geek - which gives me a little hope for the whole astronaut thing.

6.) I like tomatoes but halfway through my hamburger or sandwich I will take it out if there is one. For years I would put a tomato in my hamburger, knowing that I would eventually take it out. It wasn't until about a year ago that I realized I didn't even have to start with the tomato.

Okay, I tag Amanda (because she hasn't posted in about 85 years), Heather, Liz W., Liz L., Laura, and Andrea. Ready...GO!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A pain only my enemies should know

You may recall a while back I wrote about how I'm a big cry baby and then I listed off things that made me cry and one of them was people being kind. Here's an example:

My knee locked up at church yesterday, right before church started, up on the stand, as the choir was about to start practicing. In the words of Bubbe, "Oy, the pain, the pain. A pain only my enemies should know." I won't go into detail of how much this hurts except to say that if some kind man had come up and offered to amputate my leg above the knee with a rusty nail file I would have said "Yes, please!" Because it hurts so bad moving is out of the question. Just the thought of moving made me a little swoony. So does writing about it so I'm going to move on. The nub of it was that this has happened several times before and the only thing you can do about it is to wait for it to unlock which meant that I was trapped on the stand, right next to the organ, which I should have been playing, and right next to the choir, which I should have been singing in. But I wasn't doing either because I was too busy trying to not pass out.

Naturally I started to cry, because that's what I do. But it wasn't so much the pain that kept the tears coming, it was how nice everyone was being. Kindness kills me every time. What I could really use in situations like these are tough love and a good joke. But that was not what I got. I got lots and lots of hugs and sympathetic looks and a hanky (how do you decline a hanky when you clearly need one but you have a disturbing feeling about hankies in general?) People don't think to say something funny when they see a girl crying. I really wish they would. I spent the entire meeting up on the stand in tears. The only thing that got me smiling was the thought that people in the congregation who didn't know what was going on probably thought "Gosh, Rachel is really struggling with something today," and hoping that someone would feel so bad about it that they would bring be a plate of brownies this week.

Eventually someone did tell me a good joke (thanks Brandy!), and the primary kids cheered me up with their rehearsal for next week's program (is there anything better than primary kids? I don't think so.) and 2 hours after it locked up (TWO HOURS!!!! Knights of Columbus!) my knee cap moved back to where it was suppose to be (queasy again. Must stop thinking about it.) and I was finally able to get off the stand. Angels were singing in the heavens and the Blue Bird of Happiness returned to my heart.

Except that the tears didn't stop because the kindness didn't stop. For the rest of the day I got lots of "Hooray! You're walking! Let me give you a hug!" Weep, weep, weep. Even when I got home it didn't end because I was getting phone calls from people making sure I was okay. And then I started thinking about Suzanne, who played the organ for me, even though she doesn't feel comfortable winging it. And then I realized that I don't even know who took over my Sunday School class. I was a complete pathetic mess.

So what did I do? I went down to my paren's house because only my mom knows exactly the pain of a locked knees and the inability to stop crying.*

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Want to know what else makes me cry? The Special Olympics. Liz, Liz, and I helped out with them on Saturday and seeing people get so excited over a ribbon really warms the heart. There's not much to report on it because it basically consisted of us standing around for 8 hours cheering as the athletes rode by on their bikes but it was still a great time.

*Check out the family blog for the epic Dice Showdown that occurred after my mutant powers turned the lights out again.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Rachel Party

I've been thinking politics lately. This is unavoidable because I like to read the newspaper and listen to NPR and even though it's still a year away the presidential elections seem to be the #1 topic. This makes me want to only read the entertainment section. Hearing about Britney Spears getting her lips done after losing visitation rights with her kids is much less exasperating to me then hearing about how many millions of dollars candidates are spending to "connect with the people". The same people who can't afford health insurance for their kids.

It's not that I don't care. If anything I care maybe too much. I can get pretty riled up about things and suddenly my congresspeople's e-mail in-boxes are flooded with irate letters from me. Gosh, I love writing to my elected officials. It makes me feel very patriotic and upstanding-citizen-y. But politics is frustrating to me because it seems as if nothing ever gets done. Lately it seems as if all any politician does is talk endlessly about problems without doing anything more than blame the other party for them.

This is why I dumped them all. Years ago, in an act of public protest, I renounced the party system. I am no party. (This is true both politically and socially. Sometimes I can be very dull and people may wonder why I was invited in the first place, even if I do make good snacks.) I realize that this makes me sound like a nut-job. Or a Libertarian. Some would argue there is no difference. It's not that I think the party system is inherently bad, but I think we can all agree that the inability of the parties to play nice and be friends has made our government very inefficient. I think a lot of time and money is wasted when politicians have the party through and through attitude. It's just bad governing when you choose a political ideology over the best interest of the people. I also don't like how belonging to a particular party increasingly means you have to be a certain type of person. That even though most Americans move towards the middle, the party description tries to pull them apart. I don't fit the mold of either of the major parties and I didn't like being identified with them. So I dumped them and official became the sole member of the Rachel Party.

The Rachel Party is for more cooperation and less deal making. More common sense and less whining. More red licorice and less black. (Really? 56% of you? I'm shocked and disappointed. Now I'm going to have to rethink our friendship.)

I do realize that I'm the only one affected by my public protest. No one really cares that I don't belong to a party. And really, it doesn't matter to me which party a person belongs to as long as they can stand by their convictions and vote their beliefs. But this has been great for me because I find that it's made me define my positions more clearly. I don't get mailers from political parties anymore which means that I have to look elsewhere for information and I get a really broad spectrum of opinions when I do that. Oh, and I have way more room in my mailbox for amazon packages. Win-win.

I'm telling you all of this because I'm kind of leaning towards both Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee for president. And what I would really love is if one of them got their respective party's nomination and then took on the other as a running mate. Mostly because they have two of the silliest names in politics and I think a bumper sticker that says "Huckabee Obama '08" would be hilarious.

Although, if Stephen Colbert decides to run I'm totally jumping on that bandwagon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Definitely Not Dreaming

Things I saw on late night TV in between the hours of 11pm and 2am during a failed attempt at falling asleep which made me think that I may have actually fallen asleep and was having either a lovely dream or a terrifying nightmare:

1.) Richard Simmons on Dave. His white man afro is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Strangely, I was more afraid of the picture Dave showed of him in a suit then I was of him wearing his usual tank top and shorty shorts on the show.

2.) Sondre Lerche on Dave. Lindsay turned me on to him a few years ago and his songs are entirely sing-along-able.

3.) Jake Gyllenhaal on Conan. His full beard makes him look like a German mathematician. Had my teacher looked like him I probably would not have failed Geometry.

4.) Former Mexican president Vicente Fox on Craig Ferguson. It was a battle over who had the most luxurious accent.

5.) Carson Daly. Why does his head remind me of Guy Smiley?

6.) Pastor Melissa Scott – widow of that crazy TV evangelist who, while alive, wore those child molester tinted glasses and wrote gibberish all over a white board. She was singing. Possibly in tongues.

7.) Bob Ross, whose white man afro kicks Richard Simmons’ to the ground and calls it names, painting a happy little mountain vista. His soft and gentle voice was finally what put me to sleep. Thanks Bob. I owe you.

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On an entirely unrelated note: Laura may have celebrity sightings but I have celebrity commenters. Well, I should probably say "celebrity" in this case. Bean, from the Kevin and Bean show, posted a comment on my other blog. I'm going to believe that it's actually him and will now tell everyone that we're BFF.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More

More mini open letters that were suppose to be on the last post but didn't make it because Blogger and I were having a fight and he kicked me out. We're back together now and taking a trip to the Poconos.

Dear Person Who Will Remain Nameless Because I'm Nice:

The difference between "document" and "form" in this particular instance is about the same amount as the difference between me wanting an anvil or a bowling ball to fall from the sky and land on your big toe.

Frustrated, Rachel


Dear Pat Benetar:

Thank you for "We Belong Together". After the document/form conversation I got into my car and that song was next on the CD (Intra-Letter Letter: Dear Katie, thanks for putting it on the mixer. Love, Rachel). It did me a load of good to belt it out on my drive home. I'm sure it also did that guy in the Lexus a world of good as well to see me thumb-mic-ing to it. He was laughing a lot.

Considerably calmer, Rachel


Dear Guy in the Lexus:

I was wondering about your license plate, "SWM LX". Is that a personal ad? Maybe your car payments are too high and you can't afford the fees for online dating services so you're just putting yourself out there in the hopes that some girl will see that you're a single white male who owns a Lexus and will follow you home.

Curious, Rachel

P.S. You're welcome for the song.


Dear Friend of Wendy's Whose Name I Can't Remember but Who, Years Ago, Gave Me the Recipe to Her Taco Soup*:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Love, Rachel


* Brown 1 lb. ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and 1 cup chopped onions. Add 1 can kidney beans (drained), 1-2 cups frozen corn, and 2 cans Mexican style diced tomatoes. Mix 1 package taco seasoning with 1 cup of water and add to mixture. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips. Put your pajamas on, put in a good movie and bask in the glory that is taco soup.

Monday, October 15, 2007

To the Point

In honor of Liz, a series of short open letters:

Dear 10 Freeway,

You were KILLING me this morning. When I passed by that traffic sign that tells how long it's suppose to take you to get to downtown I almost stopped my car right there on the freeway. 130 minutes to drive 30 miles is kind of ridiculous, don't you think?

Lately, Rachel


Dear Parent who calls me 3 times a Day:

Please stop calling me. Please. Pretty please. Don't call me at 10 and then again at 11 to repeat the same thing. I got it the first time. I also got it on Friday. All three times. And on Thursday. No, I'm not going to give you that teacher's home phone number. It's not going to happen. You'll have to wait. And while you're waiting, please don't call me. Please, please, please stop calling me.

Seriously, Rachel


Dear PBS:

Because I'm a really old woman I like to watch Mystery! on Sunday night. But also because I'm old I tend to fall asleep during it. Could you please rerun the episode from last night? I fell asleep right before we found out who killed that guy.

Curiously, Rachel

Friday, October 12, 2007

You call this happy?

You all remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine refuses to participate in all the office parties because there are so many of them, right? I've turned into Elaine* here at work but for a completely different reason. We sound HORRIBLE when we try to sing happy birthday and it makes me not want to go to the party. It's like you have to be tone deaf to work here. I've noticed that when a large group sings Happy Birthday they always start out on different notes but then will eventually find their way to the same key. This does not happen in my office. Everyone chooses their own key and sticks with it to the bitter, bitter end. No amount of Costco cake can sweeten the experience. Plus, I don't even really like cake. It's a lose-lose for me.

This morning we got an e-mail announcing another birthday celebration and I found that I couldn't stomach it today. So I'm sorry Co-Worker for not coming over to wish you well. Maybe you could take that as my present to you. I was one less voice to make your ears bleed.

It was my brother Sam's birthday on Wednesday and even though I called I feel like he needs an Internet shout-out as well. So Happy Birthday Sam! For your birthday present I'm giving up Sunday hamburgers with Mom and Dad so they can come visit you. You're welcome.

*My next step in becoming like Elaine is to come up with a fun dance to do at office parties. Complete with thumb-waving and short kicks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Black Death

Either you like black licorice or you don't. Right? Right.

I don't. Which makes me a little annoyed when I open a box of Jujyfruits and one of them is black and it has infected all of the other jujies in the box with it's nastiness.

Bleh!

Let's have a vote!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Return of the Shim!!!!

The Shim is back! And I we're totally BFF.

(Several of you already know most of this story so just sit tight while the others catch up)

Years ago I was in line at a certain bookstore near my work. I was buying the latest Georgia book, Dancing in my Nuddy Pants. The two teenagers in line ahead of me went up to the open cashier and a few seconds later both gave a sort of nervous, awkward laugh which made me look in their direction. I could tell right away that the cashier was clearly a man, and not just by the Adam's apple and male pattern baldness. He had very masculine feature. Middle-aged doughy man features. But he was trying to look like a woman. What hair he did have flowed passed his shoulders, he had make-up on and fake nails. He was wearing girly glasses, a pink silk top and more jewelry than I've ever seen any human wear. Even Mr. T. And he had breasts.

I tried really hard not to stare. But I must have been because when I got up there he leaned over and said, "Not yet, but I'm working on it." And yes, that's exactly what he meant. He's "working" on it! As in, these boobs may not be real now but a few more hormone treatments and they will be. How exactly do you respond to something like that? I probably mumbled something like, "Oh...um...that's...um...terrific. Good luck." Awkward! But he must have gotten it all the time because he just smiled and chatted about the books I was getting. He thought the cover was cute (don't you miss the old Georgia covers? I really do. Stupid Harper Collins!) After he was done ringing me up he said, "Do you know what book changed my life?" I said, "No. What?" "It's called Think Pink. It's over in the women's health section." Really!? Think Pink! You don't say.

I smiled all the way to my car and shared the story with everyone I knew, because you can't keep a good one like that to yourself. Naturally it goes down as legend in my book (right next to the classic one of Kim's cats trying to kill me one dark and stormy Halloween night.) and all of my friends and I started referring to him/her as Shim.

Flash forward to the release of the next Georgia book*, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel. After work I headed over to the bookstore, about as excited as a very excited thing. I practically skipped into the store and searched everywhere for it but couldn't find it anywhere. So I went up to the help desk and there he was, Shim, looking exactly the same, just like a man dressing as a woman. Apparently the "work" wasn't going so quickly. I asked him if he could help me find the book and he typed something into his computer and then turned and pointed his long acrylic nail at me and said, "I'll be right back, hon." He was gone for about 5 minutes and during that time I applauded myself for acting more natural than the last time. When he came back up he had the book with him and said, "This doesn't come out until next week but I'm going to sell it to you anyway." I was so excited that I gave a little victory squeal, and so did he. And, much to my surprise, a victory hug. And suddenly we were back to awkward.

Fast forward again to last night. I got home from work and plowed through the last 200 pages of The Golden Compass (I won't write a review for it until I finish the series but I'll give you a hint of how I felt: when I finished it I yelled out, "Wow!!!! This book was AWESOME!!!!!" just like a 13 year old.) If I hadn't already been in my jim-jams and snuggled up in bed I would have gone out and picked up the other two books in the trilogy right then. But I have a strict policy about leaving my house after 9 pm. I don't do it unless it's for ice cream. This is what happens when you get old. So I had to wait until my lunch break today.

I walked in and found the books and headed up to the check-out and, you guessed it, Shim was there! It's been years since I'd seen him so I expected to see some progress with the "work", at least to where I could start referring to him in female pronouns without feeling silly. But he still looked like a man dressed as a woman. He still had a man voice and an Adam's apple, although I think he's had some hair transplants because he wasn't nearly as bald as I remember him. My only guess for where he's been all of these years is on a silver mining expedition in the Yucatan because of all the jewelry he had on.

He greeted me like we were old friends who meet once a week for milk and cookies. And then he proceeded to tell me all about how he cut his finger with a pair of scissors and he showed me the bandaged wound and I expressed concern that it looked like he was bleeding through it and he said that he had just put too much antiseptic on it, that's why it looked all oozy. And then we chatted for a little bit about books and stuff and then he was all "it's so good to see you and please come again," and there wasn't a hint of awkwardness on my part. Not even when he shook my hand and I thought that they were the only part of him that seemed the least bit feminine. They were so soft, and he shook hands like a woman, you know, the half-hand shake where you just offer your fingers. Maybe that's what he's been working on.

*I think it is very fitting that two of my meetings with Shim have been centered around Georgia books, because I felt like they were very Georgia moments. I can just hear her now: "Great Granny's Knickers! That man's a woman! Call the Ace Gang."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Santa Ana Hair

Years ago I read Joan Didion's essay on the Santa Ana winds and every time they blow I think of it. She talks about the manic affect it has on people. How suicide and murder rates go up. School children won't settle down. How even before it comes you can feel it in the air:
What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from
the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up
sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash
point. For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear
sirens in the night.

She links all of our natural disasters to it. A Santa Ana blows which causes wild fires in the hills so when the rains come in winter it washes the hills and everything on them away. She's right about that. They do cause a lot of problems. And I think the theory is dead on about the affect that the winds have on people. It does make you feel kind of lost. There were several nights in my childhood where I would wake up to the sound of the wind whipping the tether-ball chains against their poles at the school behind my house and thinking that something bad was about to happen. Although she takes it one step further and turns us all into citizens of Thunderdome, fighting for survival and ready to lose it on our neighbors at the slightest hint of a breeze:

Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as
the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is
lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect
the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its
unreliability. The winds shows us how close to the edge we are.

Sure, they're bad. But apocalyptic bad? I don't think so. Because my hair would never look this good after the Other Four Horseman pull in.

True story: I was lying in bed yesterday with the lights out and the blinds shut, suffering through a very powerful wind-induced headache and the thought ran through my head - well, at least when I finally get around to doing my hair it will look fabulous.

The Santa Ana winds create a very dry condition and, as anyone with frizzy unevenly wavy hair knows, single digit humidity levels = really good hair day. This is an excellent reason to travel to Utah (other than picking up some squeaky cheese and visiting friends and family. Hi friends and family!) because the humidity level consistently hovers around -83%. My definition of Utah Hair is completely different from the actual defenition of Utah Hair.

So I will put up with the headaches and the chapped lips and scaly skin and dry mouth and wild fires and the homicides and suicides and the dust and the heat and the fallen trees and downed power lines and the sound of the wind wheezing through my drafty apartment and the feeling of impending doom and every news broadcast spending the first 10 minutes on wind-watch just to have those few days a year when my hair does not resemble a tumbleweed.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Be the Parent!

Dear Parents Who Refuse to be Parents So Instead Call Me to See if I Will Be the Parent:

I don't have kids. I babysat a bit when I was a teenager and I have a bunch of younger brothers and sisters but they're all real live grown-ups now. So are those baby-sitting kids. A few of them have kids of their own (I'm 80). I teach the teenage Sunday school class at church and sometimes I sub in primary either in a class or on the piano. But that only means that I'm around them for an hour a week, maybe 2. I have a nephew who I got to hang out with for about 6 months before his parents took him away to the Frozen North. He cried a lot but he never talked back.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't have any experience in parenting. I could take a guess at how hard it is but I probably wouldn't even come close. Judging from what I hear from friends with kids, I would imagine that it can be a little brutal. So I'm really not trying to be that haggish single woman with a lot of opinions but nothing to back them up with.

However, this will not stop me from giving those opinions out. And I would like to point out that you've all asked for them. Repeatedly. Often times in tears, begging me to do something because your son won't do his homework. And since many of you don't like hearing what I have to say, maybe seeing it in writing will help. You can print it out and put it up on your fridge, next to your child's parole requirements.

Rachel's Advice on Parenting Based Entirely on Common Sense and What Her Parents Did because She's a Matronly Old Aunt Who likes to Crochet and Wear Brooches.

You are the Parent. Be the Parent. And what does being a Parent make you? The Boss. When your child says to you, "You're not the boss of me," you need to show him his birth certificate (which you should have the original of because you will need it. I promise.) and tell him that he has been misinformed.

As the Parent it is your responsibility to your child to do parently things like clothe and feed him, take him to the park, bake him chocolate chip cookies, give him hugs.

You have the right to make him to do things that he doesn't want to do because they're good for him. Like brush his teeth and go to bed and be kind to his sister. Him not wanting to do it does not make the thing any less beneficial, no matter how long he screams or holds his breath. If given the means and opportunity kids would do nothing but eat raw sugar and not change their underwear for weeks and weeks. I hope you've read Lord of the Flies. This should give you a good idea of exactly what young boys will do when left to their own devices.

You also have a responsibility not just to him but to the law to get him to school. On time. Dressed appropriately. And to help him with his homework. By helping him with his homework you ensure that his homework is actually done. And if he doesn't do his homework remember that you have leverage. You could take his video games away or make him turn the tv off. Or not even turn it on until his homework is done.

If your son is telling you that he's spending 5 hours a day in his room doing homework but his teacher tells you he hasn't turned anything in then he's lying to you. The teacher is telling the truth. Don't blame the teacher. The teacher is not out to get your son. The teacher is not a racist. There is no conspiracy that the entire school is in on to get your son to fail and end up in prison.

Speaking of prison, if the reason why you won't make your son do his homework is because he's 6 feet tall and you're afraid that he's going to hit you then you need to call the police. You should also call the police if he refuses to go to school. I can't make him go to school but the police can. They'll even give him a lift.

You're not doing your kid any favors by defending him when he does something wrong. It really is his fault if he smokes pot or brings a knife to school. His friends aren't forcing him to do it. He deserves to be punished if he breaks the rules. We're really not trying to ruin his life. These are just the consequences of his actions. Perhaps, if you had shown him a few of those earlier in his life you wouldn't be calling me to babysit him.

Remember, you're the Parent. Be the Parent.

Sincerely, Rachel

P.S. You can probably tell that it was a rough day of phone calls.
P.S.2 You should talk to my parents. They're great.