Thursday, May 29, 2014

Behind the Photo

This is my new facebook photo, taken yesterday up on the ridge behind my house.  When I posted it, I realized there was  much more to the story.  The story behind the photo.  Why was I up on the ridge in the first place? And why was I holding my hat?  Wait.  Why take a selfie whilst balancing on a rock on a ridge in my backyard holding my hat anyway?  

Purple mountain majesty and all that.
Really, I should hike up to the open space behind my house more often.  Because this is the view of Pike's Peak from up there.  Of course, my kids go up all the time.  

Please note: Rocks are larger than they appear in photo

They hike up to the very top to the formation they have nicknamed "mushroom rock".  And Ember, as the youngest, is forbidden to hike up to it alone.  Although she's been caught on more than one occasion disobeying this rule.  Ok, she does it all the time and I worry she's going to fall or get bit by a rattlesnake.  Or have some super freakish accident involving both simultaneously.

I hiked on top with purpose.  To get the best view of the Thunderbirds, putting on a show for the Air Force Academy graduation.  With my camera, hoping to get a good shot or two.  Instead I got about a hundred of just the sky and one decent photo.  In my defense, it was super bright out which meant I couldn't see the screen and the sky was a lovely shade of blue.  And I'm slow.  Very slow.

But, I digress, before all that, while I was up there waiting on top of mushroom rock with nothing but my camera.  Not even sunscreen.  Thus, the hat. And the wind, requiring I hold my hat.  It seemed like as good of time as any to take a selfie.  Which I later posted to facebook.   My friend was like, "Oh look it's my new house being built in the background!"  I hadn't even realized I'd captured it, even though I could hear them sawing from up there. Another friend noticed the ridge he was on to watch the Thunderbirds is in the photo too.  Meaning, he's gotta be in the photo somewhere.  

But what you can't see in the photo is my complete outfit.  So let me explain.  It was a hot day.  Eighty-eight degrees to be exact.  I didn't plan for it to be quite so hot when I showered.  So I didn't shave my legs.  Voila.  Maxi skirt to the rescue.  Covertly masking my sasquatchness while giving off an air of super comfy, cottony, put togetherness. Which I topped it off with some cute sandals.  Except cute sandals are never practical or functional for say walking two wily dogs or climbing up a ridge.  So I swapped out for my old standbys, a pair of converse.  So this is what my bottom half looks like.  The bottom half not captured in the photo.  

Now, I never dress like this.  Or wear my hair down.  But, my hat wouldn't fit on my head with my hair up.  And since I have no sunscreen on and it's Colorado where you can get skin cancer in all of about 10 minutes of exposure, I need a hat.

Of course, this is the day I see everyone I know. Including a new neighbor, who's actually an old neighbor, I met on my way back down the ridge.  Dressed like an out about town photo of Jessica Alba or Pink from an issue of US magazine.  Hiking a ridge with a maxi skirt on.

I got more compliments yesterday than I ever have, well, ever.  Which might be friends gently telling me, "Wow, this is so shocking because you normally look like crap."  So, maybe I'll pretend to be Jessica Alba a little more often.  Next time the Thunderbirds are in town and come over to my house for a nooner.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hail to Impracticality

There are things in life which are completely impractical. First and foremost, having children. Dogs, travel and camping, also top the list. They are all expensive, exhausting and unpredictable. Of course that's exactly what makes them all fun and exciting. Making these impracticalities some of the best investments in life. And (and this is an extremely large 'and' here), the most work.

So when we had a two night backpacking adventure planned for Memorial Day weekend on the calendar for months with 2 other families, 8 combined children and 7 dogs, this was the perfect culmination of the leading impracticalities.  And no matter what the weatherman predicted, which was rain in this case, we weren't cancelling.  No matter how many signs we encountered to the contrary.

And there were a couple.

What's a little rain? 
It's so sunny & beautiful.
What could possibly go wrong?
Screw the weather, we're camping.
In a flash flood area, right next to the river.
Cause gorgeous!

When we arrived at our campsite for the night, sore from hiking in with heavy packs brimming with supplies, the adults performed a little synchronized sunbathing after lunch.  The kids and dogs ran free,  fishing,  throwing Frisbees off the highest ledge and sniffing each others asses.  It was then that we discovered Clyde is in fact gay.  Which might explain why he is content just cuddling with Bonnie. This was all before unpacking all our diligently packed tents and the work of setting up camp began.  

It wasn't long after that it started.  First with scattered raindrops here and there.  Suddenly it was hail.  Thankfully, right before that, I was able to make the rounds and kick off happy hour with the 7 pound box of wine I hiked in with.  Impractical?  I think not.  When you're stuck in your tent with nothing to do.  

We got a break in the weather, enough to check on the status of the kids, the dogs and our friends.  One of which who was drenched in a leaky old tent.  We all pitched in to dry out her sleeping bags by the fire while reconfiguring her tent situation.  Just in time to brace for round two.  What turned out to be an entire night of rain.

After several Hail Marys throughout the night, that everyone was ok, the next morning we conceded.
Mother Nature had won.  We'd give in, pack up and do the practical thing, go home a day early.

Until next time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Travel Insurance

Photo from
I've wanted to go there for so long.  I've stalked airline tickets there for years.  Enough to know that it was no cheaper or less time consuming to get there from Morocco than the States, which is why we haven't gone already.  Then finally, the tickets dropped to the lowest price I've ever seen them.  Which is still ridiculously expensive times six, mind you.  Panic set in.  We need to buy them right now.  Right now I said!

So we did.  About two weeks ago.  We sat in front of the laptop late at night, my husband's face and mine lit only by the glow of the screen.  After all the information was diligently entered by my husband, because I have a tendency to totally completely screw up detail work, we sat there.  

Breathe in, breathe out.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Breathe in…..hit send.

And just like that, and thousands of dollars that we probably or definitely should have used to fix our house that's slowly sinking in the Colorado soil later, it was done.  Now we could relax for about 30 days until the bill arrives and we have to figure out how the hell to pay for it.  Except, I didn't relax.  In an extremely uncharacteristic moment, I picked up a guide book and started planning what to see within the country.  And even more uncharacteristically, I found it.  I totally found it.  Just the right mix of off the beaten' path and overexposed, mandatory tourist sites.  Mind you, I didn't look at the cost of doing any of it.   Or book it, because really, there's only so much uncharacteristic shit I can pull off in one day.  Which might be a good thing.

Because the very next day, after my giddy excitement that we are finally, finally after all this time going there,  guess what happens.  No.  Really.  Guess.  

Insert guessing interlude with Jeopardy music here.

It was the top headline in the news.  Before "Teen's 'Billie Jean' dance wows crowd" was the lead story.  Thailand is under martial law.  And where are our tickets to?  You guessed it, Thailand!  Wait.  Weird.  This seems so familiar.  Because this is what happened right before we went to Egypt.  And this is probably why we should buy travel insurance.  But also probably why no one would actually insure us.  Because, rest assured, I have a seriously bad case of wanderlust and an even more serious case of bad timing.  

WARNING:  If you know me or my kids in real life, please note, we have not told them yet!

And if you mention any of this Thailand business in front of them, we'll make you tell them that there will also be no Christmas presents this year.  And that there's no Santa.  And all about the birds and the bees.  

No, no this Christmas, we're giving the kids the gift of not knowing whether we're coming back from our vacation alive.  Again.  

Monday, May 19, 2014


Photo from
I'm ashamed.  It happened about a month ago.  I was desperate.  Sitting in wait.  Hoping against hope.  That just this once it would be me.  It was uncharacteristic for me to even want it in the first place.  Because awards are such bullshit.  I've always thought so.  So why, did I pay $80 to submit my book for an IPPY award?

I couldn't get an agent.  Or a publisher.  I don't have a degree, nor have I even ever taken a course in writing.  So therefore, there is no paid professional writing critiquer who would obviously know his or her shit because they were a paid professional writing critiquer, to declare, "You write good".  Cause I'm positive those are the words a wordsmith would use.

Now, while I'm normally a fairly well balanced realist, who at this point in my life can usually see my motivations before I act on things, on this particular occasion, I was completely deluded and blindsided by myself.  It's a passive marketing tool.  That's what I told myself.  If I get an award, I'll sell more books.  While that's partially true, it's mostly total crap.  

I realized this on the reveal date.  All day anxiously and obsessively checking the IPPY website for updates.  Imagining myself calling my husband to tell him the good news.  "I'm a good writer.  Someone I don't know who is a paid professional writing critiquer said so.  So obviously, it's true!"  

Of course that's not what happened.  I neither came in first, second nor third in my particular memoir category.  All of the books that filled those three spots had completely award-winning sounding titles.  And I felt so completely stupid for even entering the contest, much less thinking I had a shot at winning.  What made me think I even had a chance in the first place?  Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.

It took me precisely 5 minutes to put things in complete perspective.  Entering the contest and having hope I could win was not in and of itself stupid.  But the search for external validation was and still is.  

I don't write for awards.  Or to have a best seller.  I write for me.  My words are valid, standing on their own, simply because they're true and they're mine.  The only person who can both validate and invalidate me is me.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014


For everything I do write about, there's at least double that in things I can't write about.  Let me rephrase that, I could write about them, but I won't.  I try to tread very carefully where my family and friends are concerned.  Acquaintances even.  My goal is for my writing to be constructive.  To draw parallels between your life and mine.  Not to be destructive, mean or embarrassing.

But, trust me when I say I have so many more stories that are both heart wrenching, heart warming and just plain ridiculously hilarious.  And if I had an anonymous blog, I would have a shit ton of material to write about.  But, I don't.  Have a super secret anonymous blog that is.  I definitely see the appeal though.  To be able to write completely unedited and uncensored.  Accountable only to one's anonymous self.  However, that's not the journey I'm on right now.

I'm on a path of self acceptance.  Which is the antithesis of anonymity. 

Everything I write is given careful consideration.  Is it mean?  Is it fair?  Does it negatively affect my family?  Or my friends.  Does it alienate anyone?  Or make them feel less than?  Which doesn't mean I don't screw up from time to time.  Cause god knows I do.  In my writing and in my life.  All the time. The thing is, through putting it out there in print, imperfections, typos, bad grammar, sentence fragments and all,  I'm slowly accepting my imperfections.  In a way I couldn't under a pseudonym.  

And not all my stories are actually mine to tell.  Many I leave for my kids, until they grow into them and have the courage to own their own stories.  So they must remain unwritten.  For now at least.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

All the Small Things

Photo courtesy of
There are the big obvious things in life that take center stage.  Both huge challenges and accomplishments.  But then there are the small things.   Both small challenges and accomplishments.  That we brush off, discounting their significance.  It's just a little something.  No big deal.  But that's a lie.
Small things are in fact not small things at all. They are big things cleverly disguised in small packages.

And every big thing starts out as a series of small things.  Little tests of our dedication to the bigger picture.  Knowing that everything counts in large amounts.  (A little Depeche Mode wisdom for you.)  Every choice has the potential to strengthen your resolve or weaken it.  Essentially, every moment, every choice, matters.

Of course, with so many small opportunities crossing our path everyday, we're going to miss some.  Or screw up the ones we have.  But, there will always be a new one.  Or a chance to redeem ourselves will appear  and we can try to set things right.  To return to the path we truly want to be on.  Or change paths altogether.

I was reminded of all this by my daughter and her friends this week when they performed at the school talent show.  Five quiet, unassuming 11 and 12 year old girls who don't like the limelight.  But formed a band and stepped up and out onto center stage as Color Nation for a few minutes.  After hours of hard work and dedication. Despite technical difficulties, they shone and proved they were indeed titanium.

Getting up on that stage and performing was no small feat.  It was a series of small choices, culminating into something much bigger.

A little inspiration for you.  Unless it's a big inspiration.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summertime Sadness

The heat has already arrived.  Requiring a mid day slurpee run to quench my thirst.  The trees are budding.  The garden sprouting.  Soon the kids will be out of school and we'll spend our days lounging at the pool.  Summer used to be my favorite season.  But, not anymore.

One of the kids was the first ones to say what we were all thinking.  Summer has become synonymous with wildfire over the last couple of years here.  And bad things come in threes right?  So what if there's another fire again this year?

I know the answer is we'll deal with it if and when it does.  That life is a series of existential fires flaring and the key is living in the moment instead of living in fear of what's to come. Even though I know this, I still count how many summers we have left until the kids leave home.  Going off to college and whatever other life adventures are in store for them.  Leaving their childhood behind.    

Sometimes I temporarily wallow in the summertime sadness of it all.      

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dancing Queen

If you'd like to order this 80's disco inspired belly dance ensemble,
you can do so here:

I love to dance.  Somehow, moving my body to music allows me to feel.  Like some kind of quiet celebration inside of me.  Which may sound weird.  Perhaps you pictured dance to be more of the tabletop kind.  Loud and exuberant.  Like the theme song to Fame.  But, that is how an extrovert dances.  And I, of course, am 100% certified, organic introvert.

So while, the rest of my belly dance class is excited at the prospect of the recital coming up at the end of the month.  I am completely terrified.  Already.  And I have been ever since my instructor uttered the word "costumes" a few weeks ago.  

I may be the only belly dancer who is in serious hate with belly dance costumes.  I hate the sequins.  And the beads. The matchiness.  But most of all, the attention that these things taken together command.  

Then there's the make-up.  While I wear and celebrate the natural look, wearing make-up to conceal my under eye circles with a hint of mascara, heavy make-up is a whole other thing entirely.  I've tried to do the black lined cat eye.  I've even swiped on crimson lipstick that's probably made with lead in China before.  But, it looks completely stupid and unnatural on me.  

Pretty much everyday I put my hair up, just to get it out of the way.  It's thin and straggly.  Vacillating somewhere between wavy and curly depending on the humidity.  I don't own a blow dryer.  I haven't done anything besides let it dry naturally in years.  Even when I get it cut semi-annually, I ask that she not dry or style it.  I mean what's the point really?  How would I even go about trying to style it now?

Oh, crap!  I just remembered my feet.  They'll be up on a pedestal.  A stage, where people might glimpse the utter hideousness of my calloused unpedicured feet with naked yellowed toenails.  Luckily, I think this will go unnoticed because, the sequins, deflated hair and under eye circles are likely to take center stage.  Good thing.  

But, the worst of it, by far is my severe social anxiety and stage fright.  Which means I could know the choreography inside and out (I actually don't at this point in time) and my mind will go completely blank anyway.  And I won't remember a step.  This is my worst fear about performing in a group.  That I will somehow end up in the first row, stage front, standing there facing the audience under the hot lights, mascara tears streaming down my face because I just pissed myself.  And another dancer might slip on my piss puddle.  Then everyone will go down like dominoes with their swords.  Which of course results in some impaling.  What can I say?  I'm a catastrophizer.  

As I'm talking to my husband and building my case with reasons for not dancing in the recital, he states the obvious.  

H: Don't do it then.
M: What?  
H: Huh?
M: I have to do it!
H:  No you don't.
M:  Yeah, so I prove to myself that I can do it.  And survive.  So I never have to do it ever again.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I only have a few weeks left to try to pull off Dancing Queen instead of Belly Flop.  I will be channeling my energy.  In the meantime, some of my vital systems may be shut down.  Like logic.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two Occasions

There are two occasions for which I wear slip on shoes, a pair of unholey socks, shave my legs, slap on a matching bra and panties and pluck that stray nipple hair.  And it just so happens those two occasions were scheduled to be two consecutive days this week.  My pap smear and a laser hair removal treatment of my bikini region.

It's really quite a vulnerable position to have someone looking at your hoohaa at eye level especially under ultra exposing fluorescent lighting.  That's not even the worst of it, then there's your butt hole to think about.  Which is exactly what I was thinking about when I went for my last laser treatment.

As I was walking out the door, after several trips to the bathroom to ensure I wouldn't pee on the laser technician, I considered maybe it wasn't a good idea to have leftover cauliflower soup for lunch pretreatment.  Because everyone knows cauliflower induces gas.  And the last thing I want to do is inadvertently let a fart slip out with the tech's face right there.

When I got to the mall, where the clinic is,  I felt the urge.  Oh shit!  Yup, I had to shit.  This wasn't in the plan at all.  I had already gone to the bathroom and wet wiped myself to absolute lemony freshness.  But, I couldn't wait until my treatment was done.  And what if I didn't take care of it and then had an emergency in the treatment room.  Which makes me think of no short than 10 embarrassing scenarios that could occur.  And all of them way too graphic and horrific to put into words.

So, I stop to drop a deuce in the ladies room at the mall.  When my kids were little I always kept wet wipes in my purse.  But, not anymore.  Dammit.  This means I need to wipe my ass like a million times with that super cheap one ply shit that is amazingly abrasive.  I mean for one ply.  Really, how impressive is that?  Finally, after wiping, checking the paper to make sure there is absolutely no trace of any fecal matter whatsoever, my butt hole is completely raw.  And I'm positive it's some shade of crimson.  Or fuchsia.  I don't know for sure, cause I can't see it.

But the tech is about to see it in about 5 minutes.  What is she going to think?  I have hemorrhoids?  Or worse.  That I just did butt stuff.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But she already knows how I groom my pubes. That I have a penchant for argyle. And a freckle right there.  Yes there.  I prefer her not to have any more information on me than she already does.

Finally, I'm in the room.  My anus still throbbing from excessive, vigorous wiping underneath the one ply paper gown that is somehow softer than the toilet paper I used.  Then I did what I always do in awkward occasions, I tried to make her laugh.  And if there is one thing that will take your mind off of whether or not you still have some poop on your butt, it's making the tech who has a hot laser in your crotch miss her target.

LIFE LESSON:  Do not under any circumstances make the laser technician who is doing your brazilian treatment laugh.

P.S.  I lied.  There are are actually three occasions.  The other one is TSA.  Cause you just never know when they're going to have to do a cavity search.  I like to be prepared.


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