Friday, August 31, 2007

Cry Baby

I cry a lot. Amanda, testify! (Amanda has seen me at my most tearful moment, that being the end of Million Dollar Baby. Sweet Tuna, that was a sad movie. We weren't just crying silently to ourselves. Oh no. We were sobbing openly, weeping as if all the bunnies in the world had died. The government came over and declared our apartment a wetland preserve after we finished watching it because loons started migrating in.) You would be amazed and probably concerned over how much I can cry. I like to think of it as a medical condition because most of the time I physically cannot stop myself from crying and I'm looking forward to the day when I can no longer function in society and I can start collecting disability and live off of your tax dollars.

But that's where the benefits of being a chronic crier end. Because have you seen me cry? It is not pretty. My chin quivers, my face squinches up and my eyes, which already have a bit of the Orient* in them, turn into puffy red slits. It does not help that I lose all ability to speak when I cry and I can't explain to people that it's a condition and I'm pathetic and please stop looking at me with sympathetic eyes because it makes me cry even more.

I've spent years trying to look less frightening when I cry. I have perfected the art of the gentle swipe. Amateurs make the mistake of wiping the tears away at the eye, which makes you look worse because it only irritates them more. The best way is to let the tear fall down your cheek and then gently swipe it away with your fingers. This also makes you seem delicate and makes people feel sorry for you rather than embarrassed to be around you. It's possible I'm deluding myself into thinking this.

Either way, here is a mostly general and in no way complete list of things that make me cry:

1.) Sad things
2.) Happy things
3.) Other people crying
4.) Kindness
5.) Crippled homeless people
6.) Good-byes
7.) The elderly
8.) Most stories on NPR
9.) St. Jude commercials
10.) The Olympics
11.) James Blake winning his very first career five-setter last night
12.) Remembering times when I cried
13.) Sam, Stacy and Ben moving to Idaho

Because that last one encompasses numbers 1, 3, and 6 (with a little bit of 2 because it's an adventure for them) you can imagine that I'm a little teary today.

Quick, tell me a joke.

*Sam, also blessed with a bit of the Orient, has a theory: Genghis Khan and his men plundered as far west as Bulgaria, which, as we all know, is pretty close to Switzerland, which is where our very neutral and chocolate loving people are from. I could be the heir to the Mongolian Empire for all you know. Bow! Bow to the Empress!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I've been to Michael's twice this week and have left without buying a single thing. That my friends, is success.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When Bad Math Happens to Good People

Tragedy struck the office. I passed by Lisa's desk and witnessed something truly terrible:

Death by Math Manipulatives.

Kim came by and witnessed the carnage. Oh, the horror.

She will be missed.

It's strange that the manipulatives would attack like that. Lisa's a Math Person. She likes numbers. Don't you think they would have recognized their own? I suppose it's like in "2001: A Space Odyssey" - when HAL attacks Dave because he sees him as a threat. Maybe Lisa was a threat to the manipulatives' plans to take over the district or start a juice bar. Who really knows the inner workings of manipulatives? (Side note #1: HAL's death is the greatest movie death scene ever.) (Side note #2: Can someone please explain to me why 2001 always makes it onto the top 10 list of every movie buff. I wanted to shoot myself in the foot when I watched it.) (Side note #3: After you're done explaining the mysteries of 2001, please explain why the word "buff" has become synonymous with "enthusiast".) (Side note #4: When I typed in "buffs" in Wikipedia one of the links was to the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.) (Side note #5: Never mind about #3. I found it out.) (End of side notes.)

I'm not a Math Person so I think I'm safe. And to prove this I will now divulge something: I failed Geometry. As in a big fat F at the end of the semester. I should probably be ashamed of this. I am not. Geometry made no sense to me. I could never see the point, or the benefit, of explaining how a triangle is a triangle and my teacher could never adequately explain to me why I should do it, except that my grade depended on it. And while that may be a good motivation for some people, at the time it was not for me. I like to blame it on the fact that in that same semester I was in the school play and I was taking all sorts of hard classes and I was reading Moby Dick.* Have you read Moby Dick? How is a girl suppose to care about Geometry when she's drowning in whale blubber? I could very easily blame Moby Dick, Ahab certainly did, but it wasn't his fault. I was 16 and stupid and I didn't like Geometry and didn't want to do the work. End of story.

Except that it wasn't. Because some years later, during a semester where I actually had to reread Moby Dick and watch "2001: A Space Odyssey", I suddenly became a Math Person. Well, in the sense that I appreciated that there is one correct answer in Math. I was taking five English classes and that semester was spent reading and writing and reading and writing with more writing and writing and writing and then some more reading followed by writing. And then there was the thinking. Knights of Columbus, I thought the pants off of that semester! And at the end of it all, what I really wanted to do was algebra. Because I just wanted one answer. I wanted to do a few simple steps and find out exactly what x was and I didn't want to have to defend it. It was the first time in my life that I actually wanted to do math. It passed after about a week of keeping my check book balanced.

This brings me to an open letter:

Dear Ms. Geometry Teacher Whose Name I Have Forgotten:

I once asked you what I would use geometry for in real life and you said, "Carpentry and quilting." I've never actually worked with wood so you may be right about that one but I've made quite a few quilts and they've all pretty much turned out just fine despite the fact that I didn't learn a thing from your class. Actually, knowing fractions has been more helpful in quilting than having the ability to recognize a right angle. Don't be discouraged. I didn't actually believe you when you said it.


*Random trivia that may be helpful if you're ever on Jeopardy!: The name of the ship that rescued Ishmael after Moby slammed into the the Pequod was the Rachel.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Because I'm a huge geek I get a Word of the Day from Most of the time they're words that I've heard plenty of times before and thought I knew roughly what they meant only to find I had it all wrong.* And sometimes they're words that I've never heard of before, like defenestrate, which means to throw out the window. Seriously.

I like words. (Need I say, "Duh!"). I like knowing the origin of words. (Side note: a had a professor who pronounced the word origin as or-IGIN. Was that with you Rac?) I like words that sound nice or funny. Most people know that my favorite word is spatula. Not only is it a very useful tool in the kitchen it is also a great word to say. So are autumnal, rapacious, and sleuth.

I always enjoy getting my word of the day. Except this past Saturday. The word was mulct and I guarantee that if you say it out loud you will feel slightly uncomfortable, like you shouldn't say it in church or in front of your mother. It doesn't help that it's a difficult word to say (A million imaginary bonus points to the first person who can supply me with another word with "lct" in it.)

But I do like what it means - to swindle. Isn't swindle such a great word. It brings to mind a man in black, twirling a skinny mustache and holding the deed to the farm (Cue ominous music!)

*I didn't learn this one from but you should look up the word moot. It does not mean what you think it means.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Jennifer Lopez is Failing as a Wife

Dear Jennifer Lopez,

I’m in that wonderful time of year when I don’t have a single tv show to work my schedule around. I don’t have cable or any kind of digital recording device so the number of shows that I could potentially waste my time on are much less than the average American. And yet I still find myself watching a whole lot of tv when I could be spending my time working on a design for a jet pack that can hold more than 30 seconds of fuel. (Oh to have a jet pack.). I justify it because a lot of what I watch is on PBS which is essentially NPR for the eyes and the only thing wrong with NPR is Carl Kasell’s voice, which can only be described as jowly. PBS does not have Carl Kasell which means I can spend hours watching American’s Test Kitchen and Foyle’s War without having a single seizure. And yes, even I am amazed at how 80-year-old-ish I am.

During this golden season I find that I have a lot of time to read and sew and color (my latest: “Dude Descending a Staircase”). It feels really luxurious, like I’m actually living my dream of being an Independent Woman of Leisure, and I make all sorts of resolutions to not get hooked on any tv shows when the season starts, which leads to resolutions to work out every day and go to bed earlier and eat lots of leafy greens. And then the Office comes on and the world cannot possibly expect me to miss the Office, or American’s Next Top Model for that matter. And what goes great with anorexic 20-year-olds whining to Tyra Banks about how their lives are over if they don’t get that Cover Girl contract? Bert & Rocky’s ice cream. And then suddenly my resolutions are out the window and lethargy sets in for the winter.

This brings me to my point: you should really take better care of your husband.

You see, all this reading makes me kind of sleepy. Because I’m an 80 year old woman I can’t read for long periods of time without falling asleep on top of the book. The other night I got back to the Duke’s place after work, made myself some dinner and read for a little while. Around 8 I noticed that I was falling asleep in between paragraphs and that’s just too early for me to be doing that so I turned the tv on and started watching a tribute to Paul Simon. He was getting some award from the Library of Congress (Did you already know that there is a Librarian of Congress? How can I get that job? Maybe you have some connections that could help me out.) I was pretty excited about the show because I love Paul Simon. He's my go-to guy. Whenever I can’t decide what to listen to (I also do not have an iPod, so I’m 80 and a cavewoman) I can put in any Paul Simon cd and not skip a single song. During my formative years the Concert in Central Park tape was on constantly in my dad’s truck. That album is the soundtrack to many fond childhood memories, like my first time to Acres of Books.

I was not disappointed by the show. You were there so you’ll remember the line up: James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, Allison Krause, Stevie Wonder, basically every one I love. Seriously, Lyle Lovett singing a Paul Simon song is about as good as it gets. And you’ll recall that they had all these other performers from different genres doing covers. Gospel, cabaret, even Steven Marley doing The Mother and Child Reunion, which was just the right amount of reggae. It all wrapped up with Paul coming out and singing, among other things, Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes with Ladysmith Black Mumbazo. Really cool. It was only made better by some very comically dressed back-up musicians, two of whom were in kaftans, and you know how much I love a man in a kaftan. It was pretty much the perfect show.

Except when your husband sang El Condor Pasa and Late in the Evening. I know to a producer he would be the obvious choice. Ricky Martin has been too busy reinventing himself for the last 5 years and Marc Anthony is the only other marginally talented popular male Latin singer and they’re kind of Latin-y sounding songs so why not.

Well, I’ll tell you why not. There is nothing more painful than watching a 92 lb. consumptive mamboing across a stage. Those dark sunken eyes and hollow cheeks made me want to wrap a shawl around him and sit him down on a fainting couch with a bottle of laudanum.

Please J-Lo, feed him a sandwich and find a good doctor.

Sincerely, Rachel

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Perhaps I should have put on my job application that I don't really like talking on the phone. Nope. Not at all.

My ear hurts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Reply

I sent my letter to the Hershey Company about the nasty banana Reese's peanut butter cup and here is their reply:

Thank you for contacting The Hershey Company.

Your comments about REESE'S Limited Edition Banana Crème Peanut Butter Cups are important. Our goal is to develop products, promotions, and advertising with widespread consumer appeal. It is disappointing to learn that your expectations were not met. Comments such as yours are valuable and provide input into future planning.

Your interest in our company is appreciated.

The fact that they used the word Crème makes me like it even less. It's like when developers call a place the shoppes instead of the mall.

This brings me to one of my pet peeves: misspelling words to be cute or quaint (or should I say cwaint) or using foreign or old spellings to seem more upper class. When I worked at the animal hospital there was a convenience store in the shopping center that sold really yummy sandwiches but I had a hard time going there because it was called Kountry Kwik Deli. I can not support that sort or thing.

This makes me want to send another letter to Hersheys

Dear Hersheys Company,

Using the word Crème makes me think that you're trying to be something you're clearly not, which is Lindt Chocolate. Lindt can get away with using crème, you cannot. Especially since the product you're using it on has Old Fat Vegas Elvis on the wrapper. It's common knowledge that I think that Old Fat Vegas Elvis is the best of all the Elvises, but he doesn't exactly scream class. Rhinestones and silk scarves and giant buckets of sweat, yes, but class, no.

Stick with Mr. Goodbar.

Sincerely, Rachel

Monday, August 20, 2007

Knights of Columbus!

I was down at the fam's last night for dinner and my dad brought out this old phonebook from 1924 that my grandpa gave to him. Grandpa grew up in Watts so the phonebook covered most of South L.A. (This is not related to the subject but I think it's important for you to know that I have street cred, yo. As if growing up in the numbered streets of Chino already didn't give me enough.) We had a good laugh over all the ads in the book. Like the one for the Hydro-Electric Organization, specializing in "water-treatments", which sounded an awful lot like it was code for "electric enimas".

My favorite part of the book was the section that listed off all the "secret organizations" (Victory! I have reached my quotation marks quota!). You know, like the Masons, the Knights of Columbus, the Oddfellows, the Daughters of Tabor, that sort of thing. I don't know what it is about these groups that make me laugh. Oh right, the funny hats. Who doesn't love a Shriner? (Answer: Sheila. She told me once that the reason why bad things happen at the school district is because we have a Masonic Lodge across the street.) And after reading up on them I love them even more. Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine! Come on! I think we all can agree that's pretty awesome.

But it's not even the best one. I came across this list in my search for more secret organizations and at the very bottom were the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. Here's my plan: disguised as a man named Sid (mustachioed, natch), I will infiltrate the RAOofB and work my way up to 2nd degree because I think that Certified Primo is a much cooler sounding rank than Knight Order of Merit. Wish me luck. I hope their meetings are in the morning because my pre-9am-man-voice is pretty convincing.

Incidentally, I think that Knights of Columbus would make a fantastic exclamation. As in "Knights of Columbus, this salsa is hot!"

Addendum: Thanks to the 1924 phonebook we came up with a really fun game (okay, fun to the dorks in my family who like looking at old phonebooks. Go ahead and mock, we don't care.) The beloved elderly will remember this but way back when phone numbers use to have exchanges based on the first 2 digits of your phone number. So for instances my dad's exchange in Bellflower was Torry (86x-xxxx) and my mom's in La Mirada was Whitney (94x-xxxx). We all decided that we needed to bring back exchanges for our phone numbers because it sounds fun and old-timey. So from now on I will be giving my phone number out as Humphry-0-xxxx. Katie is Addison-8-xxxx and the fam's is Occidental-7-xxxx. Fun, huh? This all came about after my dad told us that he still remembers that the exchange for the LA Olympic Auditorium was Richmond because he use to watch the wrestling matches broadcasted from there every Wednesday night while he folded papers for his paper route and rooted for "Classy" Freddie Blassie. Ah, shucks Beave!

What would your exchange be?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Cat with No Name

I'm house sitting again. This time for the Duke and Charla. The Duke is my dad's cousin. Picture Santa in a Hawaiian shirt and that's him. They're taking their daughter Jessica up to school and then driving around in their RV for a few weeks. I'm looking after their pond and their cat and their mountains and mountains of surfing tchotchkes.

I was over at the house on Sunday, having them show me around the place before they left, and I asked all sorts of really good questions like where do I put the mail and how often does the cleaning lady come and how do I work the alarm. Do you know what I didn't ask? What's your cat's name?

I've been calling her Kitty out of neccessity but I think it's time we name her. So I need your help. Here's what she looks like when she's lounging:

And here's what she looks like right before she eats your face off:

If a good name comes to you leave it in the comment section. I should probably give a prize out to induce you. Okay, if you come up with the winning name I will make you a mixer cd. And believe me, you want one of my mixer cds.

Let me warn you though, I will judge you based on the name you suggest. I have very strong feelings about animal names. I worked at an animal hospital for a while and I came across a lot of ridiculous names like Sweety and Snowflake and
Precious-Baby-Pudda-Wudda-Kitty-Cat Walsh. For the sake of our friendship, do not make this mistake.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sumo Car Girl

I leave at roughly the same time every morning - that time being quarter after late. Because of this I occasionally see the same people on the freeway, people who should be my friends. Why you ask? Because they’re AWESOME! Here’s a list of some of them:

1.) Antenna Car Guy: He drives an early model gold Saturn that has like 20 antennas on it. One of them is about 15 feet tall. I like to think that he is using the antennas to talk to Martians. I bet he likes to think he’s talking to Martians too.

2.) Jesus Jeep Guy: Proud owner of a jeep entirely covered in Christian bumper stickers. Every window, every door, every square inch is shoutin' redemption! Including the spare tire cover that says, “Spared by Jesus.” Hardee-har-har.

3.) CCR Biker: An elderly gentleman who always smokes a cigar and wears a leather vest that has “Credence Clearwater Revival” stitched on the back. I hope the name tattooed across his chest is Proud Mary.

4.) The Rocket Bug Gang: This middle-aged couple drive a bright yellow VW bug. Every available space inside the car has miniature versions of the car, including a stuffed one in the rear window. The license plate says: RCKTBUG.

I bring these up because I had a bit of a tragedy yesterday. I have these sumo wrestlers sitting in the rear window of my car. They’re locked in battle and their top halves are on springs so it looks like they’re wrestling whenever I go over bumps. Well, yesterday, on my way to work, I turned a corner and heard a thump. I looked back in the mirror and saw that the pedestal the sumo were on was still there but both sumo had broken off at the ankles. Sigh. I like to believe that whenever I passed one of my favorite people on the freeway they would see my car and think, “Hey, it’s Sumo Car Girl!” (which is preferable to "Hey, it's Sumo Girl!") Sadly, this won't happen anymore. They are broken beyond repair and now it’s just two pair of stumpy feet. How is CCR Biker going to know it’s me he almost runs off the road whenever he weaves in and out of traffic?

I don’t know how it happened but I do have two theories:

1.) Samurai. My car may be infested with them.

2.) Ruby St. Germaine, the tragic lounge singer who lives in my cup holder.

She’s the jealous type and she may be sending a message. (Remind me sometime to tell you her story. It's a good one. Full of intrigue and betrayal, with a guest appearance by Elvis.)

Sidenote: I was almost plowed into by a VW Bug (not Rocket Bug!) yesterday. The interesting thing about this is that the driver looked to be about 19 and she was wearing a turban, just like Joan Collins in her Dynasty days.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Things I loved about Saturday

1.) Going to the gym which justified a breakfast of Holy French Toast, thus cancelling out all of the gym points but increasing my Eternal Total Happiness points by 1000.

2.) Working on a new bird:

3.) A present on my door step (thank you, thank you, thank you Amanda!):

4.) Dinner and a movie with the girls:

As you can see, it was a good day.

Brief Complimentary Movie Review: Bring a tissue. Maybe two. Seriously. I knew how it was going to end, (Hint: She died a spinster. I don't know if she owned any cats.), and it was HIGHLY fictionalized (they based the entire movie off of one letter she wrote to her sister mentioning a man she danced with several times at a ball.), and I'm not the World's Biggest Anne Hathaway Fan, or the World's Biggest They Casted a Marginally Famous American Actress to Play an Iconic British Character Just So They Could Appeal to the American Audience Fan either, and while these people beat me out as the World's Biggest Jane Austen Fans, I have read all of her books multiple times and I love her, which I think makes me a big fan in the lower-case sense. Let's just say that while I was excited about seeing it I was fully prepared to be disappointed. And yet...well, it was pretty much fantastic. Anne Hathaway didn't annoy me, the rest of the cast was terrific, including James McAvoy, who I wanted to tuck inside my pocket and let him say nice things to me, and the story they concocted was fanciful but entirely compelling. Go see it, preferably with your mom and sisters so you don't have to cry alone.

And on the banana front, I think we can safely say that the idea people at Reese's are brain damaged monkeys. Check the poll results out. I think that's fairly significant. Rac e-mailed me this weekend stating that she didn't get to vote but if she had it would have been for yum. Sorry, it will only count as an asterisk. The results I'm sending to Reese's will state that 100% of my readers* hate banana flavoring and they should immediately stop production.

*If I didn't love Rac so much I wouldn't even put the asterisk in.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pyschedelic Cornucopia

Dear Publishers of Howard's End:

I went into Borders last night to pick up a copy of the book. We're reading it for book club this month. I'm pretty excited about it. Here's a picture of the books I bought:

I want you to notice the covers of the other books. Nice, huh? (Don't laugh at me that I bought a book titled Love Walked In. Nicola recommended it and she is good taste personified.) I want you to notice your book. You can't really tell by this picture but believe me when I say that it is uglier than sin. Which, I think we can all agree, is pretty ugly. The colors are too harsh, all mashed-up purple and orange and brown, like a psychedelic cornucopia (if I ever start a band it will be named Psychedelic Cornucopia and we will rock!) and then add in the blue and the black and the white and bleh! And are those gypsy women on the front? Are there gypsy women in the book? I've seen the movie and certainly Helena Bonham Carter has a bit of the bohemian in her, but she didn't actually strike me as a gypsy. Especially since Emma Thompson is her sister and can you think of a less gypsy-ish woman? No, neither can I.

It bothered me that you would pick this picture. Do you have a catalogue of free art that you can use on mass produced classics? Is that why you choose it? Was it because the gypsies are having a country picnic in a setting that could pass for the English country side? Perhaps you missed the peasant skirts and do-rags they were wearing? These are all questions I asked as I contemplated whether or not I should buy the book or go to another store to find a prettier cover. Looking at it now, I think I made the wrong choice.

I wonder if I'm prejudice because I know that the cover doesn't represent the book. If I picked this book up, not knowing anything about it, I would think, "Ooh, Russian peasants. I bet it's depressing." And then I would put it back on the shelf. I took a writing class from a guy who wrote children's books. He had no control over the cover art and it drove him crazy. During the semester one of his books was published and he showed us the art that the publishers had chosen. It was two boys in little league uniforms standing in front of a baseball diamond. Nice. Except that one of the boys looked like he ate puppies for breakfast and the other had sausage links for arms. I feel that this cover fits under the same category - the books I will not buy because they're ugly category. Don't you want to sell your books? Perhaps you can do a little better the next time.

Sincerely, Rachel

Thursday, August 9, 2007

In the leafy treetops

I think I have a thing for trees. Maybe it's because I'm in Southern California - a place not really known for them. Fake boobs, yes. Trees no. We can plant trees but we don't have any of those thick wildernesses. Anyway, my thing for trees usually leads me to tree-ish type crafts on Etsy. Or maybe everyone else also has a thing for trees and that's all they do, so that's all I see. It's not my fault, it's theirs. Regardless, my favorites list there is filled with trees. Loads of them. Here are a few.

I've been eyeing this particular picture for months now. I like how the leaves look like perching birds. I also think her striped tights and pleated skirt are adorable. I'm naming her Sally, no matter what the artist says.

These plates are pretty much the cutest things I've ever seen. Berries. I'll need lots and lots of berries to serve on them. With whipped cream. And mint.

You can't tell just by looking at it but within this leafy pink roll are many pockets for knitting and crochet needles. And since I have the World's Largest Needle Collection it would be both functional and lovely.

I really should limit the time I spend on Etsy. Because whenever I'm on it I want to spend money. Even more so then when I'm in an actual physical store. I have very little problem looking at something in a store and admiring it and wanting to buy it and then putting it back on the shelf because I always tell myself that if I really can't live without it I can go back and get it. I don't tell myself this with Etsy because so many of these things are one of a kind. I could decided that it has to be mine and go back only to find that it's gone forever. Rent clothes! Gnash teeth! Why didn't I buy that Felt Mr. T! Oh, right, because I told myself that I could probably whip one up myself with the help of the World's Largest Felt Collection.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Was it the smell of pretzels that saved me?

Is it cheating to listen to a book on tape rather than reading it? I read this article and it seems like the consensus is yes.

I don't actually listen to many books on tape. The only ones I've listened to all the way through are books that I've already read. The only new book I tried to listen to nearly killed me. I was driving out to Phoenix to visit Cynde and Ryan and I thought I would pick up a book on tape to occupy the many, many hours it takes to get there. The drive to Phoenix is like a drive to the other end of the galaxy. It only takes 5 hours but I guarantee that even at light speed it would still feel like 10. Have you done it? Don't. Seriously. It's bad. I was doing this particular drive at night which changes the view from Hadley's-Palm Springs-brown-brown-brown-brown-Colorado River-brown-brown-brown-Phoenix to black-black-black-black-I think I may be in Arizona but I can't be sure because it's so black-black-black-black like Satan's heart-black-that pretzel shop that bakes at night and smells like butter-black-Phoenix. Notice that the nighttime trip is longer than the daytime trip. You have to add an additional hour because of all the demons you have to fight off as you peer deep into your lonely, shattered soul. I should not drive to Phoenix at night.

Before this I had only done the drive during daylight hours so I wasn't exactly thinking about the effect my choice of a book on tape would have. Had I thought about it for just a minute I probably would have determined that The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion was not the best choice. Do you know what that book is about? Death. Her husband died suddenly one night before dinner and her daughter died a year later and the book is all about her feelings on the matter. You don't need to be Dr. Phil to imagine what those feelings were. When I saw it at the library I picked it up immediately because I had been wanting to read the book for a while. I like Joan Didion's writing and I had read an excerpt from it a month earlier and it was beautiful and made me cry. (Side note: If I judged everything strictly on it's ability to make me cry Encino Man would be a 4 star movie. What are you looking at? Yes, I cried at Encino Man. Leave me alone!). Plus, I had just spent 5 hours trying to locate a shop that sold tires that actually fit my midget car and I was grouchy and wanted to get on the road. It seemed like a good choice.

Once I lost the last remaining radio signal I popped in the first disc. It did not take long before I realized that I had made a tragic decision. When you're driving in the dark desert, counting the dashes of the dividing line as they zip passed you while you listen to the mellow sounds of death, suicide seems to be your only viable option. "Um, Rachel, " you may ask, "why didn't you just turn it off?" Good question, you who do not know me. I would have turned it off except that it had the same draw that those St. Jude Hospital for Dying Cancer Kids commercials have on me. I could be knee deep in a pool of my own tears and I still wouldn't change the channel because I'm so stuck on the story. Same sitch here. I couldn't stop listening to it. Whenever St. Jude had me in its clutches, weeping over the swollen bald boy with a tumor, I normally had to wait until Amanda would catch me and make me stop watching. With Joan Didion, I didn't have Amanda so I had to wait for the first disc to end. It was a long hour. When it ended I popped the disc out and put in some music. I shimmied and thumb-mic-ed my way through the Best of Neil Diamond and by the time I got to Phoenix I felt like I could live another day.

Do you know what could have helped pull me out of the funk? Miracle toast.

Oh, and my opinion? Nothing compares to actually reading a book. You can get the story but you miss out on the snuggling down into bed and falling asleep with your head on top of it. I won't think less of you though if you listen to a book rather than read it. We're friends, remember?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


My fabulous friend Liz wrote a very thoughtful post on her blog about whether or not there is honor in the ordinary.

She wrote: “It is hard when I think of where I thought I would be at 32 and what I thought I would be doing. Aside from still being alive, nothing else is what I’d imagined.”

My response to this is: welcome to the club. I bet you can ask almost anyone you know and they would all say that they 1.) are not doing what they thought they would be doing at this age, and 2.) they live a very ordinary, even boring, life.

And why is this? Because we were all delusional, naïve, starry-eyed lunatics when we were 18. Seriously. Do you know what I wanted to be when I was 18? An actress. I had just spent the previous 4 years involved in high school drama and I was certain that my future was the stage. And just writing “my future was the stage” proves what an idiot I was. Of course we’re going to think we’re dull if we compared ourselves to what we thought we should be when we were 18. If that were my life I would be married to Johnny Depp, living in London and dusting my Tony Awards while sipping on a Slurpee from my very own Slurpee machine (mark my words, I will have that Slurpee machine! Oh yes. I will.)

I think it all comes down to proximity. We’re with ourselves all the time so naturally we’re going to think that we’re not so exciting. The more we’re with something the more common it becomes to us. Example: I have a pair of earrings that I bought years ago at Target for $5. I use to wear them all the time but I’ve stopped because I’m kind of bored with them. But on the rare occasion that I do wear them I get a compliment. Every time. People notice how cute they are but I look at them like, eh, they’re okay, I guess, because I see them all the time.

It’s the same with the things we’re good at, the things that can make us great rather than ordinary. We live with our talents every day and they come naturally to us so of course we’re going to think that they’re no big deal. Especially if they’re not “talent show” talents. For years I was always a little sad that I never had anything to share at talent shows. I can’t tap dance or twirl a flaming baton. I can’t play the guitar or hula or sing arias. It took me years to realize that I have talents that are worthwhile even if they can’t be shared up on stage. And most of the time I look at those talents and think, eh, they’re okay, I guess.

I won’t go into what we can do to combat those feelings that we’re dull. That’s a little too Dr. Laura for me. But I will answer Liz’s question of whether or not there’s honor in the ordinary. I say yes. Especially if by ordinary we mean doing what we’re good at and enjoying ourselves in the process and surrounding ourselves with extraordinary people and laughing a lot and eating chocolate and generally creating a good life for ourselves. Who needs famous movie stars to do that?

Although I do need that Slurpee machine.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Holy Toast!

Lisa - knowing my love for miraculous sightings of the Virgin Mary on food - gave me the best gift ever:

Now I can have a miracle every morning for breakfast.

I've already had a miraculous sighting of sorts. A few years ago I cut into a bell pepper and the core had a happy face on it. I took it as a good omen that the sloppy joes I was using it for would bring me joy. Is it wrong to eat a sacred pepper? Well, I did and it was delicious. I kept the top of the Holy Happy Pepper in my freezer for about a year and then tossed it once the freezer burn made the happy face undistinguishable.

Now I'm looking for more iconic figures on my food. Like Wayne Newton. If he ever showed up on my tortilla I would take it as a sign that I needed to quit my job and become his back-up singer. I already consider this to be my destiny but it would literally take a heavenly visitation to get me to move to the Vegas. There are many fine things there, like the Liberace Museum and Macayo's - Home of the Mini Sampler (teeny tiny tacos!), but even driving through Vegas kills my soul just a little. Wayne may be the only thing saving it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Boo Banana!

Dear Makers of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups:

Gross!!! I picked up what I thought was one of your mini peanut butter cups from out of Terry's candy dish and when I unwrapped it I noticed that the bottom half was yellow. I thought, "Awesome! Extra peanut butter flavor!" And then I bit into it. It wasn't peanut butter. It was banana. Ew! In theory it's a good idea. Bananas and chocolate, yum. Bananas and peanut butter, yum. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches were Elvis's favorite and the King can not be wrong. Banana's are great, but banana flavoring is disgusting.

I guess I'm cranky because I only allow myself one treat out of Terry's dish a day and now it's wasted. Thanks for nothing!


P.S. We'll just see what the people have to say about it. I've set up a new poll. Banana flavor: yum or yuck? If the majority of the people say yuck then I am demanding that you discontinue the candy.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Things at work that furrowed the brow

1.) I met my my arch nemesis, Mr. Cranky Pants Dad with the Ne'er Do Well Son, face to face. He routinely calls to yell at me. Today he felt like doing it in person. (Why would we schedule the high school registration when he's on vacation? Didn't we know that everyone goes on vacation the last 2 weeks of August?!) He informed me that he's planning on running for the school board. You know, for the kids.

2.) A girl came in for her transcripts and she was wearing hot pink pants, a shirt that said "Will work for shoes" and a necklace with a crown dangling from it that was easily the size of a hamster with a thyroid problem. Mrs. T?

3.) The tech support guy saying, "We're all lit up like a Christmas tree here!" and "What's the problem-o?" and "Ah, shucks. You don't say," all in a one minute time frame.

4.) Dr. Apso's habit of putting food in her mouth and then holding it in there like a chipmunk while she talks to you.