Summer Vacation Blues

I remember summer vacation. Used to be, the school bell rang and we’d dash from our seats like cheetahs chasing a tasty gazelle. We were free! Three months of laziness!

Now. Boo. The kids are out of school, enjoying three months of freedom they won’t appreciate–and us 9-to-5ers are trying not to cry as we look out our office windows at the sunshine and the joy and the warmth and the happiness going on without us.

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(I’ll never smile again.)

Something’s wrong with society. Well, that’s obvious, but something ELSE is wrong with society. Imagine how productive and enthused we’d be after a whole summer of playtime and rest!

So who do I petition to make this happen? My overlords didn’t even crack a smile at my suggestion. They’re obviously stone people who don’t remember being young and frivolous. They probably eat the full-sized shredded wheat blocks—with no sugar.

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(Shredded wheat in its natural habitat.)

Hear me out, dear overlords!

What if we just have the month of July off to romp and play? No one does business in July anyway! I’d wear shorts everyday, hike each morning, eat fresh foods from farmer’s markets, bask in the sunshine and spit watermelon seeds at my grandkids. I’m tearing up just thinking about it!

I’d come back to work in August, ready to hit it hard. Well. Now that I think about it. I probably wouldn’t. I’d spend August wishing I was still sitting by the pool, drinking margaritas and reading trashy novels.

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(This is where I want to die.)

Maybe it’s best I don’t have the summer off. Once I tasted that freedom, I’d only daydream away the hours, longing for a simple life where I could sleep in a hammock and live on grilled vegetables. But a gal can dream, dear overlords. You can’t take that from me.

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You Know You’re the Mother Of a Teenage Daughter If . . .

Thank goodness children live with you for more than a decade before they become teenagers, because if couples were handed a teenage girl right off the bat, no one would ever have children again.

Plan on enjoying the first 12 or 13 years with your adorable little girl. Store up all the fun you can because once they hit a certain age, it takes all your strength not to get into a car and drive and drive and drive and drive, as far away from your teen as possible.

You’ll know you’re the mother of a teenage daughter if:

  • You’ve ever wished to be stricken with a severe, yet curable, illness that required a week-long stay in the hospital–just to avoid having one more “discussion” with your daughter about ear gauges.

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(“There’s nothing wrong with her. We’re just giving her a small staycation”)

  • You consider installing a mood ring in your daughter’s forehead, so you’ll know what to expect each time you see her.
  • The emotional atmosphere in your home runs from ecstatic joy to eternal doom.
  • You feel it’s an accomplishment to make it to bedtime without pissing anyone off.
  • Clothes and shoes from your closet disappear for days at a time, then show up in random places–like the backyard or the laundry basket.
  • Learning how to take deep breaths has been the only thing keeping you from jumping off a bridge.
  • You’ve ever said, “The second you turn 18, you can pierce, tattoo, surgically enhance or remove ANY part of your body.”
  • Your eye liner is ALWAYS missing.
  • There are leftover packages of food based on the diet of the week.

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(Mom! I told you I was only eating broccolini for the rest of my life! You never listen to me!!)

Good luck traversing the unpredictable, moody, scary and frustrating journey with your daughter. (Spoiler alert: it gets better.)

Would You Care To Dance?

In an alternate universe, I’m a prima ballerina. I’m performing jetes and arabesques and other fancy-sounding French words. I’m twirling across the stage in a flowing costume. I’m curtsying to my adoring fans while they toss roses at my feet.

However, in this universe, I’m a . . . what’s the opposite of ballerina? Whatever that is, that’s what I am. I’ve fought a lifelong battle with grace and gravity. My family watches in horror as I ricochet off doorknobs, fumble down stairways and trip on carpets.

I tried really hard to be a dancer. I enrolled in classes when I was 5, and wore pink leotards and white tights, creating some serious panty lines. My mom pulled my long hair into a bun so tight I looked constantly surprised. Every week we’d butcher a series of ballet steps while my dance instructor tried not to handcuff us to the barre. She often sipped from her “dance thermos.”

I’d cut up the Arts section of the newspaper, snipping out photos of Ballet West dancers to glue into my scrapbook. I had ballerina paper dolls, ballerina coloring books and ballerina dreams – but a giraffe-like body with knobby knees that bent in several different directions.

As a child, I went to see “Giselle” at Kingsbury Hall. The ballet is pretty grim. A disguised prince breaks the heart of a peasant girl who kills herself then becomes a ghost who has to dance the prince to death. Dancers are pretty melodramatic.

For weeks after the ballet, I wore tutus that draped toward the floor and floated when I jumped. I channeled Giselle through my 7-year-old body. Picture a little girl evoking the devastation of betrayed love while falling on a sword that ends her life. I’m pretty sure I nailed it.

When I was 12, I was finally able to go en pointe. That’s French for “Standing on the tips of your toes until your toe-knuckles bleed and you’re crippled for weeks, all for the sake of those beautiful satin slippers.”

The purpose of pointe shoes is to give the illusion that ballerinas are weightless wisps, floating gracefully as swans or nymphs or any type of ethereal and doomed young women. In reality, learning to dance en pointe is similar to putting your toes in a vise, then running a marathon. 

But I didn’t give up. I continued to practice daily in the hope I’d channel Anna Pavlova, the acclaimed Russian ballerina who died at the age of 49, probably from gangrene from her pointe shoes.

Because I’m writing this column instead of performing in “Swan Lake,” you can correctly surmise that my ballet career fell flat. I tried out for Ballet West’s “Nutcracker” a couple of times, to no avail, and after years of practice, I hung up my pointe shoes and succumbed to gravity.

I never transformed from gangly giraffe to graceful swan. I never glided across the stage, hoping to lure a young prince to his death. (At least, not as a ballerina.) I never received standing ovations for my role in “Coppelia,” the ballet of a young woman pretending to be a mechanical doll. (Because that makes total sense.)

But. In that alternate universe, I’m soaring, twirling, spinning, leaping and gliding en pointe, hearing the crowd bellow “Brava!” as I take a bow at the edge of the stage. And because in this alternate universe, I’m graceful and lithe, I don’t fall into the orchestra pit.

Originally published in the Davis Clipper–http://davisclipper.com/life/would-you-care-to-dance/

 

Middle of the Night Musings

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It’s 3 a.m. I’m awake. Again.

My mind quivers like a raccoon on Red Bull, forcing me to think about a) Christmas shopping, b) the end of the world, c) my Halloween costume and d) wondering if I should throw Ringo the Dog outside because he’s been licking himself for hours.

I’m also hot. Temperature hot, not hot hot. I stick my foot outside the blankets to let the cool air brush across my toes. Sometimes Ringo will lick my toes if they’re left outside the covers.

I get chilly and wrap myself up in blankets like a middle-aged, insomniac burrito.

I engage meditation techniques. Inhale. Exhale. After eight seconds, my mind wanders to the state of the economy (dire). I wonder how I’ll survive as a homeless person. Will I die of cholera alone on the side of the road?

I’m hot again. I throw the blanket off because my fingernails are sweating. I carefully roll over, hoping not to wake Hubbie.

I start worrying about the diseases l could contract—like that brain-eating amoeba or Polyglandular Addison’s disease that causes instant death from sudden emotional distress. I could have that. I could be dying. Will my grandkids remember me if I die from Mad Cow disease?

Now I’m cold. I pull the covers up to my chin. Should I get a flu shot this year? What if a pandemic wipes out everyone who didn’t get a flu shot? Who will feed Ringo? Who will Tom marry after I’m dead?

I will not look at the clock. I look at the clock. 4:15.

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What was that noise? Could I call 911 before a burglar attacks me? Would he be mad that we don’t have anything worth stealing? What if we have a rat infestation? I pull my foot back into the safety of the covers.

Are my clothes outdated? What will technology be like in 20 years? Will my grandkids have to explain things to me? I need to stop eating sugar. I should start writing a diary. I REALLY need to fix my car’s tire. What if I forget and I my tire blows out on the freeway?

What if I never sleep again? What if I have a paralyzing illness caused by insomnia? What if I’m paralyzed when the zombies attack–and I can’t get away? I jerk awake and realize I’ve drifted into a dream/awake state. I look at the clock. 5:06.

I’m awake. Again.

Nonviolent Protest: A Primer

On Sunday, two dozen NFL teams demonstrated an act of nonviolent protest– and the country lost its shit.

During the national anthem (you know, that five-minute block of time when you stock up on nachos and beer), NFL players either took a knee on the field or locked arms with teammates to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who has been taking a knee during the anthem to protest how America treats its minorities.

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“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This totally legal, constitutionally recognized form of protest incensed our Commander in Chief so much that he Tweeted out a suggestion that NFL owners fire players who disrespect the anthem. Keep in mind, Mr. Trump has never actually read the Constitution, but ignorance is never an excuse for assholery.

Asking for equal rights is not a crime. The (mostly white) people who objected to this display seemed to forget that sometimes social change only happens when symbolic protests bring an issue to our attention.

NASCAR (pretty much the whitest sport in the U.S.) took a stand against the #TakeAKnee movement. NASCAR owners threatened to fire anyone who participated in the protest.

Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, declared that “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”

But that’s just it. The United States embraces nonviolent protests. Or at least we should.

Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., suffragettes, Henry David Thoreau and the Dalai Lama have all used the technique to gain attention. Even John Lennon peacefully protested the Vietnam War when he and Yoko Ono spent their honeymoon having a “Bed-In” at a hotel in Amsterdam. A Bed-In is definitely a peaceful movement I can get behind.

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(I’m going to nonviolently protest winter by staying in bed until May.)

These actions have nothing to do with disrespecting the flag,  dishonoring our military or cheapening our extremely long, difficult to sing national anthem. You don’t have to agree with the kneelers. You don’t even have to believe in their cause. But you DO have to respect their right to protest.

Top 5 Reasons I Don’t Live in Florida

I took a summer break from writing this blog so I could have a mental breakdown. Now I can check that off my list of things to do and get back to some smart-ass blogging.

As you’re aware, it’s hurricane season, and meteorologists around the country are having orgasms on live TV as they discuss the trajectory of the latest deadly hurricane.

As I watched Floridians escape the last storm, I realized I never even want to visit this horrible state. Here are five reasons why:

Hurricanes (obviously). Floridians are exposed–and not just the nude sunbathers on Miami Beach. Florida is the dangling participle of America, taunting hurricanes and tropical storms with easy access to both its east and west coasts. There’s nowhere to hide from a hurricane in Florida. It’s surrounded by the OCEAN, for God’s sake.

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(The tracks of Florida hurricanes, or the route for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.)

20-foot pythons. Really, any size of python–and not just pythons. Snakes of every variety and poison level slither into houses in Florida looking for the opportunity to eat the residents. Not cool, snakes. At least in Utah, our rattlesnakes give us fair warning before attacking. I don’t want to wake up with a python trying to eat my head.

Sinkholes. Even Florida doesn’t want to be in Florida. Houses, sidewalks, roadways, golf courses–they’re all trying to disappear into the center of the earth to escape the deadly pests in the Sunshine State.

Crocodiles. These reptilian villains have been around for 200 million years (or 4,000 years if you attend a Christian megachurch in Orlando). These carnivores (the crocs, not the Christians) lurk beneath the water, eyeing their victims before going in for the kill. Creepy bastards.

Feral pigs. Not middle-aged men scouring Florida’s clubs for underage girls, but actual wild pigs. I thought wild pigs were something only found in fairy tales and Old Yeller.

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(Me, almost 50 years old, sobbing: He was such a good dog. You stupid pigs!)

Better the devil you know, right? At least in Utah I only have to worry about earthquakes, liquor laws, senior drivers, Sasquatch, BYU fans, tarantulas, the state legislature, elitism and the self-righteous. And the self-righteous don’t try to eat my head.

Why One Love Manchester Was a Big Deal

Remember in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when the Grinch has raided the Who’s village, taken all their food and gifts, and stands on the top of Mount Crumpit waiting for the Whos to wake up so he can hear their crying and sobbing?

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At first, he believes he hears wailing in the streets. But he soon realizes what he hears is every Who down in Whoville singing in joy. And he’s absolutely perplexed.

When a terrorist attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, he stole they lives of many people; men, women and children. The monsters he worked with sat back to hear the wailing in the streets, and watch the fear. Probably with smug smiles on their fat f*** faces.

Instead, they heard joyous singing and a big F*** You from Ariana Grande who proved she has balls as big as her heart.

Devastated by the attack on her fans, Grande scheduled the One Love Manchester benefit concert and invited some of the biggest music stars on the planet to 1) raise money for the victims’ families, 2) show the terrorists she refused to be ruled by fear and 3) to prove that love conquers hate.

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Well said, cross-stitched unicorn.

Were people wary about attending another concert? Were parents scared to send their kids to a venue that could be dangerous? Of course, but the show sold out in minutes.

When we tremble with fear, when we refuse to travel, when we avoid festivals and public gatherings, these terrorist assholes sit back and laugh. But when we’re brave and are unafraid to show love, kindness and compassion, we win. Every time.

Keep singing.