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


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.


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.


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!"


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.*


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.


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 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.


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.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Top O' the Muffin...To You!

Have you kids heard the commercial that's been on the radio lately? The one that goes a little like this:

Girl 1: Hey! Have you heard that Lipo-Zap is having a sale on muffin tops?
Girl 2: Oooh! I love muffin tops!
Girl 1: No not those kinds of muffin tops. The kind where fat hangs over the top of your jeans.
Girl 2: Ew!

Ew, indeed, Lipo-Zap. Ew, indeed. I want to run my car off the road every time I hear this ad.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Big Pharma at it's best.

Guess what's in the bag:
You never will so I'll tell you. Free drugs!!!

I went in to see my doctor about my allergies and I left with a bag of free drugs. How fantastic is that? Very, in fact.

While there I had a humorous conversation with her:

Dr. - So, what meds are you on.
Me - I can't remember their names. Can't you look that up in my chart?
Dr. - Oh, right. (Flips through chart) Okay, how are those working for you?
Me - Fine. Except that sometimes I still have some congestion and the deep inner ear itch.*
Dr. - Are you using Claritin?
Me - (Confused) No.
Dr. - (Also confused) Why not?
Me - Because I assumed that the two drugs you've PRESCRIBED me would be enough.
Dr. - (Look of complete pity because I must be the dumbest kid in my class) No. You should be using Claritin too. To help the other two out.
Me - So what's the point of the other two?
Dr. - (Checks my chart to make sure that it doesn't say anything about being retarded) They all just work better together. I'll get you some free samples.

As most of you can probably tell from my frequent mention of them, allergies routinely kick me to the ground and laugh. They have been particularly bad these last few weeks. And while the two drugs really help, it bothers me that I have to squirt them up my nose every morning. Especially since one of them makes everything taste like Drain-O for an hour afterwards. But I am not about to refuse free drugs. No sir. Mama needs her meds.

*For those of you who have this problem you know exactly what I'm talking about. But for those blessed without it let me explain. It's like a Vegas review is going on in the depths of your inner ear and all the show girls have on those giant feather head-dresses, you know the ones that weigh 20 pounds each and will eventually ruin their spines and then they'll sue the owners of the casino for pain and suffering. And then a magician stumbles onto the stage, thinking that it's his time to go on, and he has with him 20 chickens for his magical disappearing chicken act, and they're flapping their wings like mad because they're crazy for the spotlight and their mom is in town and seeing them for the first time. And a sultan happens to be enjoying the show, but he's kind of warm so his eunuchs start fanning him with giant ostrich feathers. It's like all of those feathers are tickling and itching inside your ear and you don't care that it's socially unacceptable to stick your finger in there and scratch it, except you know that it won't do you any good because it's so deep inside that you think your brain may actually have a rash or something. And then you spot your large supply of crochet hooks and knitting needles and you can picture yourself on an episode of ER, with one of them lodged in your ear and all you can do is shrug and say "deep inner ear itch" and hope that the attending also suffers from allergies and understands your plight and takes pity on you by amputating both of them. Who needs ears anyway?

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Smoking Gun

It should surprise no one that I don't like guns. I think they're bad. In fact, I can prove they're bad. Just watch my logic. Things that kill people are bad. These things include plane crashes, cancer, rabid dogs, rancid cooking oil, and guns. That's right, guns kill people! Guns are bad! They should all be melted down and made into play ground equipment. I know that playground equipment is made out of plastic now but everyone knows that it was more fun when it was made out of metal. (To the sibs: Remember that fun slide at Sycamore park? The really long one that isn't there anymore? Gosh that was a great slide.)

But wait, this post isn't directly about guns. It's about smoking. In particular, smoking in movies. Or should I say, not smoking in movies. I read this article the other day about penalizing movie studios with a higher movie rating if characters smoke in it. Their hope is that this will discourage directors from showing people smoking which will keep the idea out of young impressionable minds that it's cool to smoke. (Quick random survey: did anyone actually want to smoke when they saw someone in a movie do it? I'm curious.)

It made me remember that a few weeks ago a report came across my desk. It was printed on high gloss paper with lots of pretty colors. It was the 2003 Los Angeles County Mortality Report (I have no idea why it took them 4 years to compile this info.), breaking down the leading causes of death by race and whether or not it was premature (under 75). Super fun reading! The leading cause of death over 75 is heart disease, which I think most people could have guessed. I feel like once you hit 75 your options for death are pretty much limited to heart attack, stroke or robots. Heart disease is also the leading cause of premature death. But guess what's number 2. Homicide. And it's not robots doing the killing. It's guns. Or, as the NRA tells it, people. People who have guns, NRA! Guns! How many people would be dead if those people didn't have guns? Huh, NRA? Huh? Sure, people are resourceful and sure, there's still poison and strangulation, but I can guarantee that if it weren't so easy for a kid to get a gun he would think twice about shooting the boy down the street because he looked at him funny.

I think that we can all agree that smoking is bad too. Stinky and bad. And it must be really horrible to have an addiction to something that you know will not only eventually kill you and could potentially harm those you love the most, but will also make others not want to be around you because you smell. I'm all for getting people to stop smoking. I just saw a bus the other day that said that 1,000,000 cigarette butts are tossed on the street a month in LA which are then washed out to sea. That's foul. Plus, my other X-Men name is Super Sniffer Girl. I have a mutant strength sense of smell because most things make my allergies angry and I can smell cigarette smoke from a passing car with my windows rolled up. (Dear Everyone I Come in Contact With in a Day: For the record, you are wearing too much perfume/cologne and I would appreciate it if you would please cut back on it. Also, could you maybe switch to fragrance free shampoo, detergent and lotion. And I'm not kidding when I say that I can smell your deodorant. Love, Rachel.) In conclusion, smoking is bad.

But we were talking about smoking in movies. And my question is this: Is it worse to see someone smoke on film or to see someone get shot? I doubt that anyone really knows exactly how much seeing things on film makes you want to start doing them. I've never actually wanted to either start smoking or handle a gun because I saw someone in a movie do it (Although seeing people tap dance on screen always makes me wish I could). But I can say that anytime I see someone blow another guy up on the screen I want to break down and cry. And with smoking, I barely even register it.

I guess I should say that I think it's silly to make directors do anything. If they want to put it in, let them put it in, and if you don't want to see that sort of stuff then don't go see it. But perhaps the good people who are focusing time, money and effort to convincing directors to cut out the cigarettes should try to convince them to stop having people blow each other's heads off.

And I guess in regards to all those heart attacks the MPAA can give an R rating for excessive Twinkie consumption.


Hey, speaking of homicide I got a phone call today at work from a Sergeant Somebody about a double murder that happened here in the area back in 1976. He was trying to track down the mother of some kid who was connected to it. Apparently the day of the murder he lost 2 fingers in a wood working accident. Talking to him made me feel like I was on an episode of Law and Order.