Friday, May 29, 2009

Intimations on Romantic Love and Why I'm So Very Bad at It

The other day, my father was kind enough to tell me how well pleased he is with me-- it is one of his idiosyncratic charms that he doesn't like to use the word "proud" when discussing his children. He told me he's grateful I've become a responsible adult and a contributor. He likes the way I manage my finances and go to church of my own volition and a half dozen other things. He praised my judgement, however, with a qualifier-- he told me he thinks I have zero sense when it comes to choosing the men I associate with. I rolled my eyes, but I've thought about it quite a bit since.
It's what I hear from my entire family. "Rachel is attracted to the wrong kind of guys." Last night, while not listening to "Le Chat Lunatique" (I did watch the drummer from our outside table, and I love how he is Paul Twitchell's doppelganger), my sweet friends encouraged the budding love between me and non-boyfriend. I made excuses. What if our children are unattractive? He's into role-playing games! I could very easily see myself having to move every four years, and even more easily picture myself hating it, despite my nomadic propensities. Of course, there are a thousand things that make him wonderful and greater than most men I know, but the scare factor is high, and my own typical three-week expiration date is fast approaching, so his jets may have cooled already. I'm not in a position to make a decision. Still, all my supposedly superficial arguments even sounded hollow in my own head.
What's more, I was frankly flabbergasted at the subtle teasing of darling Jacob (the newest Jacob of my acquaintance, not to be confused with the love of my life, J. Hatch, who will soon return from South Africa, nor Jacob the disenchanted, who I rarely see or hear from now, yet still hope all the best for). Our friends' newest Jacob is a genuinely sweet boy, with much apparent goodness. He teases, but doesn't mock. He offers intelligent conversation, and such joie de vivre that he's already secured a solid place in our circle and in our hearts. He and dearest Rudy are a matched pair of knights in shining armor, and they fit quite nicely. Anyway, Jacob said, "Rachel, what in the world is with you and all your men? It's a different one every time we talk! How could I be your favorite?" Good question.
On the one hand, the 12-year-old gawky girl in me knows where he's coming from. Surely, this new acquaintance cannot begin to comprehend what's so interesting about me that I could hold any man's attention, let alone several at once. I'm not particularly nice, nor interesting. In fact, I'm rather a bore. I talk too much. Since moving back to NM, I've put on 15 lbs (I think most of it was in the Ray era), and though I'm slowly chinking away at the cellulite, I've never been nor ever expect to be a raving beauty. I'm too loud, and too independent. I'm a flatterer deluxe, and I throw many of society's conventions by the wayside. I am not what any man is looking for.
Worse still, is new Jacob's subtle suggestion that my affection for him or any man of whom he's heard me speak is non-existent. I would submit I'm prone to outbursts of admiration, but I don't say anything that isn't true. Perhaps, though, it is only true in the way I know how to love. I'm deeply sincere about my shallow feelings. It's no secret I can't swim, but wading in water to cool off has served me well over the years. Until now (and perhaps still), I've been content to let others dive into their small, above-ground pools, confined to that deep but small space. Instead, I stomp through an endless puddle of love and mud, with the casualties of unforeseen sharp objects scraping and scarring my calloused feet. I am fulfilled in stirring the shallow waters and changing the makeup of the puddle for the better, until I find another one calling for my attention. My friends urge me to learn to swim and so many of my beloved gentlemen of yore have even offered to teach me, but I'm afraid I won't be able to breathe and I'll drown.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oozing Creativity

So I've felt a little frustrated on the writing front for the last few days. Let's face it-- I've been boring! (Though I still get a kick out of Achy, Breaky Momma)
I asked myself what the deal is-- normally I can make something interesting up at the drop of a hat. I even expect other people to do it. Take non-boyfriend, for example. The other night on the phone, I suddenly said, "Tell me a story." He's been writing one ever since. I hope he doesn't read my blog, because the one paragraph he read me was really frou-frou and not my style, and he may jeopardize his chances of ever becoming REAL boyfriend if the story continues in that vein, but then I remember not everyone opens their mouths and has words and ideas magically appear. I don't really think-- it just comes. And, maybe that's the issue at hand. But don't worry-- I fully intend to pull a Stella and get my groove back.
Anyway, the thing giving me solace at the moment is knowing all my time has been spent in OTHER creative pursuits recently. I don't really mean to, but sometimes I find myself in this zone and my inner Martha Stewart gets unleashed (not the insider-trading one). I went to Michael's the other day and filled my cart with all kinds of odds and ends that became beautiful little somethings. I was so pleased with the way one particular project came out that I went BACK to Michael's to replenish my supplies. I think before it's all over and done with, I should have plenty of pieces to sell at the holiday boutique.
And speaking of the boutique, I constantly dream up ways to merchandise and advertise. I've caught myself daydreaming about price tags and how to display picture frames and chandeliers. I've mapped out which areas of the farmhouse should hold which items, and even sketched out the mailers. I certainly hope the ladies (Mumsy's friends) are up to the challenge, because I'm thinking full-scale bazaar here. I've researched tea-staining and gilding techniques and pulled things out of the old craft closet to utilize the supplies I have on hand. I love glitter! I love feathers! Why shouldn't I make a peacock chandelier like the one I saw at the stationer in Savannah? Who says I can't make my own mirror-- I've got the silver leaf, haven't I? And isn't it about time I actually refurbish those dining room chairs and finish the door table? I love my house so much. It's not that I couldn't afford end tables, I just like trunks and old suitcases better. This afternoon, my father was moving dirt around on my property in preparation for the fence my brother is building, and I invited him inside for a beverage. I showed him my new lamp (yes, I'm still going on about how in love with it I am), and he just blinked. Then I showed him my Mucha wall, and he told me it looked cluttered. "Oh, Father, really," I said indignantly. "It's not your fault you're not an artiste." I heaved the heavy sigh of the right-brained creative genius I pretend to be, and ushered him out to continue putting gravel up against my driveway. Were it not late spring, under normal circumstances I would have worn a beret, and the whole episode would have been that much more dramatic.
But the visual arts can only take me so far. Last night I had to forgo chatting with non-boyfriend because I was too busy playing the piano for hours. Sometimes that happens. As I drove home from the bulk food store with spices as a present for a bride-to-be, I sang harmony with the Everly Brothers on my iPod. I really think I should take up the ukulele for reals. It's so 1920s and delicious sounding.
And I've been itching to entertain again. I'm envisioning a late-summer soiree in my backyard, with lanterns (traditional metal ones as well as the Asian paper variety) strung from anything that will stand still. I almost want to tent the whole thing in mosquito netting and have people dance barefoot in the lusher parts of my grass after dining on something pretty and delectable. Heirloom tomatoes in a Caprese Salad. My famous risotto. Grilled squash and zucchini. Those bacon-wrapped fillet Mignon hors'doeuvres Paul loves. And something chocolate, because in this fantasy I'm once again Juliette Binoche in "Chocolat."
My choir director recently told me I'm predisposed to the sensual (read: appealing to the senses, rather than the colloquial and popular usage of the word) because of my astrological sign. I don't know if that's true, or if it's just who I've grown into. However, I will say this-- I like my clothes soft and feminine and brimming with gypsy spirit. I like music I can dance to or music that moves me to action in a deeper way. Sparkly is better than most things, unless an item has a worn, lived-in maturity about it. Scratches and shabbiness mean history, and I venerate the past (at least when it comes to furniture). I like things to taste rustic when they're savory and refined when they're sweet, though nothing can match the perfection of unadulterated, ripe fruit in season. I'm happiest to smell rain on the pavement and in the desert, or its manufactured counterpart known as the smell of Disneyland. You know the smell. If not Disney, give me Aromatique's "The Scent of Spring" for my house. I change perfumes as often as I change boyfriends, but like my boyfriends, there are several stand-bys which rotate and jockey for top-favorite. In spring, it's "Pleasures Intense." In autumn or winter, "Deep Red." Right now, I wear "Bronze Goddess" and laugh every time I spray it onto my pale skin. But I feel warmer for wearing it.
But I don't like everything to be soft and girly. I love the ache of muscles worked hard, and feet tired from walking all over creation. I like men with calloused hands who have spent their days producing and their free time giving. I even love the sound of silence, punctuated only by breathing or the chirp of a cricket. I like the crispness of minty mouthwash and the cleanliness of sterile stainless steel.
Under such blissful external circumstances as I live, is it any wonder my mind races to imagine another line of dialogue to fill my home with laughter? Should I be doing something else besides creating something magical and beautiful to bring joy to others? After a long day of crunching numbers and analyzing energy efficiency and explaining the ins-and-outs of fiberglass vs. polyurethane vs. cellulose, nothing recharges my batteries better than classical literature (though may I just say Omar Khayyam's "Rubaiyat" is beautiful but the sentiments are completely foreign to my own?), a cold glass of life's elixir (water, of course), and a comfortable chair to curl up in. Unless it's feverish painting at my kitchen table, or pounding on the piano in the dining room. Or perhaps watching some mindless film or another for an evening to crochet. If I can't be kissing, I can still be creating. Such talent, such talent.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Too Good to Keep to Myself

Sometimes life hands you too many great things all at once. When you've enslaved yourself to your Type A personality as I have, you find little time to relax and reflect. However, amid the busyness of it all, you get little gems of excellence in the form of humor, and they make the ride worth it.
For example, this morning my mother and I were discussing her new haircut. It's shorter in back now, and I really like it. She told her hairdresser, Liz, to cut her mullet. People were beginning to confuse her with Billy Ray Cyrus. Just kidding! But that's an image no one wants. Please meet my mother, Billy Ray. "If you don't finish all the vegetables on your plate, you're gonna get an achy, breaky bottom after I paddle you!"
Another enchanting happenstance was a dream I had the other night. In my dream, I was supposed to marry this guy I didn't really know. I think I'd met him only once. In my dream, I was being interviewed by my stake president (for friends of other faiths, this is a person in our church who is over about a dozen congregations) for a temple recommend. I told President Cutler that I was hesitant to marry this chap, but he told me not to worry. He then took me into another room and proceeded to give me a makeover. I guess he thought I didn't want to tie the knot because of my own feelings of inadequacy, so he was re-doing my eye makeup. Fortunately, I woke up before I had to go through with the ceremony. The crazy thing is, I can't really imagine President Cutler that way. I mean, I can't imagine him forcing someone to get married. While he has the firmest handshake on the planet and is meek and mild enough that he MIGHT even be willing to help you with a makeover if he thought it would make you feel better, he is not unkind. It was crazy, and I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate it if I told him about my dream, but I did get a good laugh out of it.
Anyway, things are progressing well on all fronts. I'm making major strides finishing all these random art projects, and my home is looking more beautiful and organized all the time for it. Health-wise, I feel good. I'm not too far from wearing that cute sweater-dress my mom bought me a while back, underestimating my bulk but not my aesthetic (I should now mention, though, that Zoey just lifted up my t-shirt and said, "baby," but she was pointing at my love-handle... boo!). My non-boyfriend is actually super and I feel good about our situation. Funnily, we're both more concerned about the other person getting hurt. He's pretty convinced that while he's away he'll meet someone and I'll end up with the short end of the stick. I'm worried that even if no one meets anyone else, I'll still not want to go for this thing. But for now, it's pleasant, and he's very kind. It's nice to have a good man around (kinda) who treats me well. I know a lot of decent men who aren't even very nice to their friends, so it makes me doubt their overall goodness. And I know lots of men who think they are nice, but their actions don't back things up. Frankly, I'd rather go out with a jerky guy who KNOWS he's evil, because I don't care for pretense. But anyway, for now things are happy. It's nice to have a little intrigue in my life but still not have to put myself away on a shelf completely. Not that Friday's upcoming date holds much mystery, but at least I'm having fun. And I imagine there will be stories a-plenty to tell.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Secrets that You Keep

My good luck continues. Sometimes luck is merely a matter of perception. My holiday weekend was fun, though there were a few things that could have upset me, were I not able to take them in stride. Lucky!
On Friday, I got reacquainted with the minivan. It just isn't a great idea to try to take a sedan on a mountain road, if you can help it-- particularly the 7 mile road to our cabin. The forest service grates the road once a year, but I'm not sure this has been done yet, because there were plenty of fun potholes. Somehow, I like to hit every puddle, because I think it makes the van look a little tougher. Anyway, other than forgetting to shift on the steering column as opposed to down by my right leg, driving the van came pretty naturally, and I enjoyed it. I did miss the 300's power, and I had to keep on the gas a little more on my way into Santa Fe, but things were pretty copacetic.
Mother, Molly (the dog), Cousin and I did run into a bit of a snag in Espanola when my mother realized she'd forgotten her various prescriptions. We made what was supposed to be a quick detour to Wal-Mart where we were lucky to find the pharmacists to be particularly accommodating. Unfortunately, just because they were accommodating didn't mean they were particularly fast, and we lost about 2 hours. However, we were lucky in that Molly was supremely well-behaved during the trip and didn't complain one bit while we waited.
Later, when we finally pulled up to the cabin, we noticed the rear driver's side tire had sprung a leak. Again, we were lucky that this happened at the end of our trip rather than somewhere on the road. I've changed tires before, but didn't really relish the idea. Another lucky thing: my brother was also at the cabin, and he is the world's most capable man. Seriously, he should get an award because the kid can do anything. The next morning, he waltzed into the family room and told me the tire was fixed. I thought he meant he'd crawled underneath the van and put the spare on. Nope. He patched the tire. Apparently, I'd run over an errant screw-- one very much like the ones used on our deck. But Ben had a kit to patch the tire with, and he had an air compressor to fill it. How awesome is that?
In one bit of bad luck, I was rather disappointed to see that the world's ugliest baby puppet was no longer at the Alamosa antique store I frequent, but happily the clerk called the owner and I was able to make an offer. I'm not sure she'll take $20 for the world's ugliest baby, but que sera sera.
Still, my good fortune continued even when I got pulled over for speeding on the way home yesterday. I wasn't able to talk the police officer out of a ticket (I really think I'm so used to having to push the van harder that I didn't really notice I was going 80 mph until I saw the cop driving toward me, and regrettably, turning around), but I was pleased that the picture on my temp license was pretty and that he only kept me for about 5 minutes. In Bosque Farms, they pull you over for having a crack in your windshield (even one which doesn't obstruct your view) and then they keep you for half an hour at least. And they call for backup, making the scene look like the arrest for a leader of a drug cartel. So I'm relatively poor, but I'm glad for the wake up call (I've known for ages I was a speeding ticket waiting to happen), and grateful the ordeal was quick and nearly painless. I still made it home in about 4 hours, which is pretty good time.
Of course, my weekend was much more than peril and perturbances viewed through rose-colored glasses. Mostly, I was in my creative element. I brought the laptop, but was sad to find out that all the software is available online (cabin=no internet access), so there wasn't much I could do. Not even any word processing! But that was ok. I didn't realize the computer is navy blue, and that was a pleasant surprise. And not writing freed up my time to do other meaningful things, like crafting scores of felt flowers and making more gilded frames for my Mucha prints. I basically took over the dining room table as my own creative domain and got a lot of projects finished.
And then there were the good family times as well. I've got my mom hooked on "Arrested Development" (for those not yet converted, think about a lawyer named "Bob Lablah" and you'll begin to comprehend why I consistently fall off my couch watching this show), and I finished another book in a series about a girl whose brain was transplanted into a model's body. My cousin found the concept intriguing. Zoey was particularly endearing, especially when she left and said, "I-oo" which is Z-speak for "I love you." We found her a great little chair at an antique store in Monte Vista, and she loved it. Jordan was even patient with her when she tried to draw on his Phase 10 cards.
My cousins Garret and Myka were also up for the weekend, and Guggs was entertaining as ever. I laughed and laughed at his impersonation of some of the folks from church, and got a real kick out of his suggestion that we start calling Zoey "Zozobra." Apparently, there's currently a radio spot about natural disaster prevention and general safety featuring Zozobra discussing fire. I couldn't stop laughing as Garret's voice would boom, "And now to our water expert... Llorona!" You really have to be a New Mexican to appreciate the humor in this, but talk about clever on the part of the advertisers. Anyway, Gare got the impression Skye wasn't really into the Zozobra nickname, but I don't see why she'd get bent out of shape. I now generally call Z "Zoser." It's a hazard of having a child, I'd say.
While I should have been more embarrassed about the speeding ticket, my only mildly embarrassing moment came as I awoke Sunday morning. I had to share my room with my cousin. Jordan and I are only three weeks apart in age, and he's always been like a brother to me, but we'd not shared a room for perhaps 15 years. As I blinked in the early-morning sun, Jordan totally made fun of me for talking in my sleep. I know I do this, but I tend to forget as I rarely sleep in the same room with another. It's for this reason I despise sleepovers and even road trips. One of my greatest fears is I'll doze off and then start saying something truly inappropriate for all to hear. Who knows if I narrate all my dreams? Can you imagine even making kissing faces while people you love look on? Most of the time, I'm dreaming up something weird and nondescript, but if I'm having a conversation, it's quite likely I'm saying things out loud. I actually did vaguely remember talking in the middle of the night, and being just coherent enough to realize I was asleep and still trying to carry on a conversation with Jordan. But apparently, Saturday was quite the chatty night. He told me at one point, I woke him up enumerating all my very best qualities. I don't remember dreaming about this, and under what context I'd even say such a thing, but it was a little embarrassing. Still, he snores. So there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Bit 'O Luck

This is a good day. I am, as Melissa Kenney would say, lucky like a cricket.
Heck, it's been a lucky week. Overcast NM is so beautiful! To all you people in Seattle, sunshine is overrated, I promise. I live for this kind of weather here. Everything feels magical and possible. Grey skies are sexy. The colors pop around me. I'm living the life of a Goonie. Los Lunas isn't Astoria, but at least the trees are green right now and the Rio Grande is surging.
You know how I know the day is perfect so far? More than the shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather, I went to the Motor Vehicle Division this morning, and didn't even have a bad experience. Sure, the line was longer than I'd like, but the MVD just moved to a new location and now you don't feel like you're taking your life in your hands walking in for a new license. And speaking of my new license, I'm happy to report that the picture is good. I'm a little annoyed that they wouldn't let me wear my scarf (kind of makes me look a little less Bohemian without one, and did you know they won't let you wear glasses-- even if you wear them for real and you're not like me with the fakes to give you an air of mystery?!?!!?), but seriously, I'm happy about the picture. I can live with it for the next four years, no problem. Not like my last license. I got that while visiting home in NM several years back. I'd thrown my back out a few days before (this is an embarrassing story: wanna know how it happened? Someone on Oprah was demonstrating how to do a sexy walk during a piece on aerobic strip tease. I tried the walk, where you really thrust your hips out and move slowly. I felt like it was ok in the privacy of my own home. But the next day, I could barely roll out of bed, and I had to catch a flight to NM. It was so bad, I had to ride in a wheelchair in the airport! It was sooo embarrassing, but I couldn't tell people it was because I'd tried to do the sexy walk. I just let my family think I'd hurt myself while heaving the inevitably heavy suitcases around). Anyway, the last time I made it to the MVD for a license renewal, I'd just gone to the chiropractor-- my first visit ever, and I wasn't too impressed with poor Dr. Bender (his real name, thank you very much). I felt so bad that it was a miracle I was wearing makeup, and I'd just let my hair dry naturally, so it was doing that half curly, half straight thing. Today, however, I at least look like a human. Not as boho as I'd like, but attractive enough that when I get stopped at yet ANOTHER security or DUI checkpoint, I won't be embarrassed to hand over the ID.
Also, this time at the MVD was a vast improvement over the last time I was there. Remember how about a year ago I discovered I'd been driving on a suspended license because of a clerical error in Santa Fe? I remember sobbing and yelling, "This is why people join the NRA!" right in the middle of the office. So another bit of luck was not getting the clerk who'd "helped" me before. Instead, I got a very pleasant girl who was competent and helpful. And she didn't even get mad at me when I kept accidentally turning my head a bit in my picture. I'm sure I did it out of habit-- you know how full face in a picture is rarely super flattering. But again, every time I take out the temp license, I'm pleased.
Also, the addition of the Organ Donor heart is really nice. I've been listed as an organ donor for a while, but I think the heart is new. I reminded my mother this morning that were I to get in an accident, she is responsible to please see that my innards are used for good. I don't really understand why she isn't super down with this idea. But when I explained that such a donation might go to helping someone like our little Lydia someday (my cousin's 16-month-old daughter who just had open-heart surgery yesterday), she better understood. Give it all away, if you can, people. My kidneys are great. My liver? Amazing! My eyes are wonderful, though I wish sometimes I could wear my glasses for real and not have to wait till I'm 40. The heart is strong, and I'm sure they could harvest a lot of other tissue. Everything gets put back together in the Resurrection anyway, right?
So yes, things are lucky. Lucky I'm in love with my best friend. Oh, wait. That's not me. That's Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait. I did have a nice 2 1/2 hour chat with one of my best male friends last night who might accidentally fall in love with me legit-style, but we're just gonna keep that on the back burner for a while. But I'm also lucky that we are all for exploring our options-- read: seeing other people. I am NOT in a relationship. I'm not really sure I want to be. Sabbaticals are so much easier, and you don't have to worry about if your kids would stack up in the cuteness factor against their Sego cousins. And yes, that's cousins, plural, because Ben and Skye found out yesterday that Zoey's having a little sister. Our little fetal bean is a girl! I suggested they name her Rachel. She'll probably end up named Glorieta or something, but with a strange spelling. Ben and Skye are all about the unique spellings. They have to be. Their newest nephew is named Que (pronounced Q) and his older brother is Jhett (what would have been so wrong with spelling it just J-E-T?).
I'm also lucky that I get to spend the weekend with Little Bean #1, aka Zoey-face. And the rest of the family, including cousin Jordan. They will certainly wear me out, but I'm ok with this. I'm (luckily) prepared to have a mostly relaxing weekend-- hiking, reading, finally opening that blasted computer and writing, writing, writing, plus creating more interesting things for the October holiday boutique I'm participating in. I'm lucky because I tend to sleep well at the cabin, and of course, we eat well there too. I'm lucky I can watch hummingbirds from just a foot or two away on the porch, and relive the traditions of my childhood as my father will certainly employ his sound system to wake us up with something interesting. When we were little, it was the theme to Disney's "Main St. Electrical Parade." I'm guessing this weekend it will be The Lettermen. I'm lucky also that I'm packing the iPod to listen to while I create my artistic masterpieces so I can tune out "Big Joe's Polka Show." And I know I'll be super lucky when I get back to have a nice text message from Jacob saying, "Dear Rachel. I love your blog, you little genius." And another one from Lou saying, "I can't wait for Le Chat Lunatique on Thursday!" And one from Pamsicle saying, "I miss you more than everything in Anthropologie combined!" (By the way, did I mention how lucky I was to have two birthday gift cards from Anthro THE VERY WEEK of their Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sale?) And possibly one from Nashty, which will read, "Sego! You are the bomb-diggity!" And one from my bestie Sokphal telling me about her latest flag football game. And any number of other surprises. And why shouldn't these things come to pass? If I were a gambling woman, I'd buy a lottery ticket. Everything's goin' my way. Beautiful mornin' to ya.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Little Less Ceremony

I've probably mentioned it countless times, but I'm a fan of the whimsical. Sometimes "just because" is reason enough to cover something in glitter or to ride a mechanical bull (which I've not managed to actually do yet, but the decision is made-- yes, I'm riding that thing for the full eight seconds). That's how I decided to take Polish and to paint my living room green in one apartment. That's how I came to the conclusion there wasn't anything wrong with rifling through dumpsters for furniture or throwing pebbles at a friend's window, or trying to seduce a boy in a gas station. I mean, why not?
That's not to say I'm all for the out-and-out craziness some people embrace. I'm sorry, you members of the Medieval club, or people who ride unicycles. I might attend a Renaissance fair at some point in my life, particularly if it's connected to a Shakespearean festival, but I'm not going to dress up as a lusty wench. I'm a Disneyland/Disneyworld fanatic, but the only Disney merch in my house is a toaster that burns Mickey's face into the bread. I just think that's plain funny.
Recently, I read about a new-ish counter-culture movement, the Steampunks. Basically, these people are into ideas surrounding a Victorian aesthetic and thinking about how things would be different if we were still using old power methods with our current technologies-- for example, an analog computer. Sounds weird, right? I only stumbled upon it because the picture of my Anthropologie lamp showed up on one of their sites, but I read about it for a whole day. What's more, last night I watched "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"-- the comic it's based on kinda started the whole movement. Super interesting. The movie is old and Netflix reviews were all kind of along the lines of "This is stupid if you think too much about it, but if you don't analyze anything, you'll enjoy it." Not really encouraging, I'd say, but I enjoyed the film. It reminded me of the film "Serenity," though I couldn't tell you why. It appealed to the classic lit nerd in me, for sure, and I was pretty stoked (pardon the pun) for the character of Mina Harker from Dracula to play a big part. Anyway, I don't think you'll ever find me dressed in Victorian garb and goggles or mechanical wings (not because I don't think it would be fun, but because I've not liked Victorians since V. Santa Claus followed me out to my car after Ye Merry Olde Christmas Faire when I was a little girl), but I can appreciate it. That's why I think I'm connecting more with steampunks in the way they dress up the ordinary and mundane tools of today in ornate, even baroque ways. I like anything kinda odd like that.
Of course, in my old age I'm getting a lot less fanciful in certain areas of my life. Remember in Jane Austen's "Emma" how Harriett has to have a big ceremony to burn all the crap she associated with Mr. Collins? I used to have to gather my friends around me for emotional support to take someone out of my phone. This morning when I woke up and saw a certain individual didn't bother to answer a text message, I just erased the number. And then I erased a bunch of others. It just felt like some spring cleaning. No big deal. I told Sokphal that any of those people will be happily welcomed back into my phone if they call, or if I find need to call them. But why the clutter?
I think very little of getting out the good dishes and having a fancy picnic in my living room under a fort made out of blankets by myself or with loved ones, and I like to chase butterflies with a net. But if someone is going to ask me out on a date, a simple phone call is preferred to the creative scavenger hunt where you end up at Jamba Juice where you are supposed to order a smoothie under the name of "Buttercup" and then meet your mystery date for a showing of "The Princess Bride." And that even goes for the preparation I put into dates and activities. I'll spend a good 40 hours preparing a Relief Society lesson, but 20 minutes to throw on some clothes for a date. I mean, I showered, right? I don't look like I've given up on life. But is my date really going to care if I used the exfoliating mask AND the Biore Pore Perfect Nose Strip? Oh, there are those men who still merit that kind of attention, but not every chap nor every date merits a new outfit.
Old-fashioned manners will never go out of style with me, but old-fashioned opinions of what I'm capable of, what I should be doing with my life, and what others deem acceptable are water under the bridge. Ceremony only means something if you have beliefs tied to it, and I don't really believe Miss America is royalty or that an Oscar necessarily means a movie is worth my time. But I do believe in gentility and chivalry and femininity and courtesy and hospitality. And I believe in returning phone calls. And Victorian architecture, so long as modern Santa is the one doing the visiting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Everything Counts in Large Amounts

It's no joke leading a rock 'n' roll lifestyle-- or even that of a groupie. I'd even go so far as to say the latter occupation is more challenging in some ways. Sure, you don't have to spend hours perfecting a talent enough to display in front of (tens of) people, but at least as a performer you get the payoff of having people screaming your name and wearing "I Heart So-and-So" shirts and blogging about you. Hahaha.
I know I've said it before, but I thought my groupie days were long over after I graduated from the Brigham. I loved going to the Ed McBand concerts, but even those got a little old after a while. Not promoting Eddie, of course-- I'd do that forever, because he's my friend, and there's something so smart about a song with the hook, "You're the Garbage and I'm the Fly," but you know what I mean.
Well, from time to time, the music lover in me takes over. Sometimes this manifests itself in me playing the piano for hours on end. Or the harmonica. One night I sat with my hymnal and tried to see how well I could play things with just the diatonic I have in the key of C. Other times, I'm content to listen. Recent additions to my iPod have included Harry Belafonte, Shakira ("Estoy Aqui" and "Underneath Your Clothes" are my personal favorites), Paramore, Jack Johnson and Ben Harper, Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly, Better than Ezra, Marty Robbins, Green Day and Counting Crows, Melissa Ethridge, the Killers, Destiny's Child ("Bootylicious" is a great tune, even if the lyrics "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" aren't the best I've ever heard), Bob Dylan, Fugees, Madonna and Amy Winehouse. A lot of it is stuff I've already had, but I'm too lazy to rip all that music to the ol' PC (and, no, I still haven't taken my laptop out of the box-- I was too busy last night making felt flowers and watching "Mama's Boy"-- a movie you should only rent if you really are bored, though there's a lot of good Morrissey stuff on the soundtrack).
Of course, the fastest way to get my fix is to listen to live music. Jeff took me to a nice NMSO performance of Carmina Burana last Friday, and "Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi" has been running through my head ever since (though it wasn't my favorite movement). My favorite local band, Le Chat Lunatique played last Saturday night, and I was sorely disappointed to have missed them. Fortunately, Lou and I have plans to see them at Scalo on the 28th. Y'all are welcome to join up for some "filthy, gypsy jazz."
But don't cry for me too much. The reason I couldn't see my favorite local band was because I was busy watching my second-favorite local/favorite regional band (is this a stretch? As W.J.D. was recently calling LC, NM home, I'm just sayin'...). And who would that be but Avenge Apollo? Honestly, I feel a little foolish every time I go to one of their shows. Because of my consistent appearances, I'm positive I look the part of some love-crazed woman ready to start a riot like a Jonas Brother's fan-girl. I'm not, I promise. And besides, I feel a little useful when I'm there. Someone has to yell, "Brennan's hot!" (though most of the other ladies who come consistently share the sentiment), and when the following band, "Free Beer, Naked Girls, No Cover" or whatever the crap they were called, was running late and my little pals needed a song to sing, I was there to shout out one I knew they could actually play because it's often on the set list. Mark Swapp couldn't do that.
Not that this is a totally one-sided relationship, though I think I've now paid out more combined money over the half year seeing them than I've spent on any other concert ticket (even Mr. Pricey Morrissey), and the birthday shout-out from Jacob appeared a little strained. But going to the shows provides me with all kinds of new experiences I'd never have were I to stay at home and listen to something on CD.
For example, the band playing before Avenge Apollo was a really rotten group called "Dead Mary." They were so bad, I had to take notes. Some of my better observances of the evening:
* The highlight and biggest distraction of their performance was the drummer's daughter, Shay. She kept running onstage and kissing her father while he was playing. It was an amazing feat-- the fact that he could still keep the beat, not the fact she rushed the stage. Given there were only 11 other people in the room, it wasn't too remarkable. The whole thing makes me wonder if I could pull a similar stunt.
* Another Shay moment: I realized she was wearing earplugs, I couldn't help envying her, and I honestly thought about stealing them. Her dad's band was awful-- just a lot of yelling cuss words against some pretty basic cord progressions. Mercifully, each song only lasted about 1:15. I'm sure I would have been more offended if I had understood the lyrics.
* Awkwardly at one point, they asked for a shout-out. "Who likes abortion?" yelled the particularly unattractive boy. Everyone in the room thought to themselves, "Wish your mother did!"
* At one point while I took notes, I missed the fact that Daddy Drummer had stripped out of his t-shirt. His daughter pranced around after learning they only had 8 more awful songs... 7... 6... "eating babies..." ... 4...3... something about pimps and naked something (which later Rudy was good enough to clarify was "Time to take off your pants")... "eff you, eff you, eff you"... 1... would it ever stop? At moments like these, I think to myself, "Jacob Divett, you owe me. BIG TIME."
* The ugliest man on the planet then said, "My butt is really sweaty."
* There is something really sad about one person moshing.
* I didn't really notice that Dead Mary's lead singer was tone deaf until they did a cover of "Eye of the Tiger."
* Shay capped off the night with her own performance on a toy guitar, accompanied by her mechanical dog. She held it up to the microphone and it said, in a very creepy voice, "Come closer... come closer. You Just got a BIG KISS!" Rudy later tried to use it as a line. He's charming enough that it might work for him.
I then tried to watch the handsome Divett brothers set up, but was quickly distracted by Shay with her face on the fake puppy's belly like she was nursing. It was a true Romulus moment.
Still, she wasn't so cute (or weird) that I was long distracted. Brennan wore a neon orange bandanna to match his orange girl pants. It made him look like a blacklight bandit. Jacob's bandanna reminded me of Johnny from "The Karate Kid." I kept waiting for Cole to yell, "Put him in a body bag!" but then I remembered I've never heard Cole utter a word. He even managed to sleep through "Dead Mary." How I envied him!
On the whole, though, it was worth my five bucks. I get most excited when I see Brennan's left arm launch in the air. A close second is Jacob's dancing. The way he shakes his head reminds me of one of those little toys where you push a button and the body moves but the feet stay planted in one place. And then there's the fact that I like their sound. That little Jacob makes me smile every time he gets political with his lyrics, or his really nice voice descends a scale a bit in a song. So I'm getting plenty out of being an adoring fan. After Dead Mary, though, I really think I deserve the Pattie Boyd muse treatment. Or maybe at least a free t-shirt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Women: How to Unlock Your Secret Super Powers

Once upon a time, I called the man I love to talk about the man I'd like to love, and a man who loves me. I'd had a frustrating weekend with good and bad things to discuss, so the hero of my life (we'll call him Andrew) was the natural choice for a soundboard and advisor. You might think Andrew was out saving the environment, but on this particular evening, he was working security at a structure considered holy by a large portion of members of a certain religious organization. That's why I know I can always count on Andrew to be my sage, my wise-man on the mountain. I never know when he's going to call and say, "Oh, I've just jetted off to..." or "I'm currently thinking about pursuing...". He is a non-stop achiever, with life experience a-plenty, and if the word did not connote some beautiful woman wearing sheer fabric and whispering in the ear of a man in a toga, I'd call him my muse. I think he thinks I'm funny, and occasionally I surprise him... usually with my energy. And he hasn't even seen me at Disneyland yet! But, as usual, I digress.
On this particular evening not so long ago, Andrew and I had occasion to discuss not only his security work (which I'm guessing is a volunteer position), but also my plans for the Great American Novel and the breakthroughs I'd recently had. He celebrated the end of Writer's Block with me. I could imagine him doing doughnuts in his golf cart.
Andrew had given me so much over the years-- love, support and poinsettias. We share a love of Mucha, and laughs about no-longer-secrets (like his nearly-nude modeling or him seeing me in the bathtub). We are 650 miles apart, but when I look at a calendar he's given me, or open my door with the Bialy Orzel key chain he brought me from the motherland, it feels like he's near. No person can chastise me more deeply or quickly, but in such a way which I never resent. Needless to say, I hold him in the highest regard. Why is he not my husband, you ask? Well, aside from obvious reasons (such as we love, but are not in love), it is because he fills the hole in my life of the archetypal teacher, the platonic ideal, and the traveling stranger who occasionally crops up as a charming companion. Just like I am the fairy godmother, he is the knight in shining armor. But it's not me he is rescuing-- just all the little servants along the way to his princess locked in some tower he's yet to find.
But where was I? Oh yes. Once upon a time, I called Andrew. And after we discussed the mundane (which is actually never mundane with us), I felt the time had come to reveal my own brand of magical power to him. I told him that part of my current frustration comes from my ability to enchant. In what way, you ask? Well, at the risk of losing such a gift, I'll tell you: I have this special ability to make men in particular do whatever I want. Does it sound bad? Perhaps not at first, but as with any blessing, the other side can be a curse.
Perhaps this particular gift was bestowed upon me through prophecy when I was but a young girl of 15 or so. In later years, I understood that women of my acquaintance referred to me as the Black Widow-- they said I derived the greatest of pleasure from making men fall in love with me, and then stomping out their hearts. At the time, such a title was laughable (and in some ways, still is, considering the utter lack of suitable suitors in my circle, not to mention my lack of malice), but perhaps I'm growing into it. Likewise, my own esteemed father once said (perhaps in the spirit of encouraging a homely and gawky daughter) he assumed there would come a day when men would beat down my door. He predicted age 18 or 19. And of course, by no means is this true-- I happily spend as much time as possible in my own home or in my own pursuits, waiting for no man to knock. If opportunity has been knocking, it must have come while I was out. However, my new power grows daily, and I must admit, I fear it.
When my own precious and sagacious Andrew did not understand, I began to illustrate: It is with great ease I can now trip up those with Y chromosomes. I first noticed the power while singing in a holiday choir concert. The attractive boy of my acquaintance who'd welcomed the audience was in charge of photographing the event for posterity. How delighted I was to catch him staring at my fishnet stockings and taking pictures of them from the audience. In fact, I was so delighted that I managed to mess up my line about peace on earth beginning with me, and the brief spell was broken. But even in that moment, I knew something about me was changing.
And it wasn't that I was all that different! Certainly, I basically look the same (though certain looks are an excellent part of my bag of tricks) as I always have. Heavens! I've been highlighting my hair the same way for 10 years now. And I don't think that it's because I'm particularly special. I'm rather convinced that most (if not all) women may have access to this same wonder, if only they learn to harness the power, and not use it for ill. No longer latent, it can be a force for good or evil.
The responsible execution of this power is where things get tricky. When Andrew didn't understand, I explained it thusly: I asked him if he knew why we'd never kissed. I'm sure that was a shocking opener, but it is a good example. Rather than let him answer (because the male ego more often than not requires answering such a question with cosmic insensitivity), I told him it was because I'd not decided to. However, I told him, had I decided, he would have been powerless. And what's more, he would have thought it was HIS idea.
The kissing examples are often the easiest to illustrate, and with the most built-in entertainment. How else would I have gone on a recent date (remember, this is once upon a time) with a fellow so long entrenched in his puritanical views on osculation (on an earlier outing years before, he explained his kissing rules as follows: 1- No kissing on the first date; 2- No making out, ever; and 3- No "French-kissing" until you are engaged) to have him surprisingly interested, pursuant, and determined to kiss? Surely he has changed a bit over the years, and yet, all I had to do was empower him to go for what he wanted (which, for the sake of the evening, was what I also wanted), and the deal was done.
Of course, such demonstrations of the secret super power (SSP, for short) are not without risk. I left that particular weekend a little worse for wear, particularly in the lip region. Did you know you can get bruised lips? And I'm not even talking about that nice, post-kissing swollen look. I'm saying purple spots here people! And for a non-lipstick wearer such as myself, the horror of realizing even lippy won't cover them up is a bit shocking. But, it was a beginner's mistake (his, of course, not mine).
But the SSP is not limited to kissing. Other feminine wiles are proving useful. Sometimes it's just an ego boost-- like on Sunday. I didn't do anything but throw on a pair of fakey glasses, and yet how many of the little men started acting like mini buffoons? My personal favorite was the boy who said, "You look... well, I'm not sure I should say." Intriguing, yes? Then he said, "What's the word I'm looking for? Pretty." Wow. Revelatory.
Other times, I can use it for the greater good. Handsome boy at Sweet Tomatoes hooked me up with a discount because I offered to use my BOGO coupon to pay for the next patron, as I was eating by myself. He looked at me like I was a saint, when I was really just trying to be nice and pay it forward. The architect who won't take my father's phone calls? He'll answer mine because I sound sweet-- little does he know that I'm actually a shark. Just kidding. As a reporter, it worked wonders. As a shopper or a Relief Society President hauling myriad parcels from points a to b, it is indispensable. I let men think it's chivalry. I don't play helpless, because I'm not. But bat the eyes and smile sweetly, and you can have whatever you want. Almost.
Because, after I hung up with Andrew, the days went on. The problem is, so often the price is too high. Like when Mr. Enthusiastic Kisser dropped the M-word-- in a purely theoretical way, I am sure. But it makes me uncomfortable that he started thinking along those lines after two dates, two years apart, and a few kisses. He is gone for many weeks, and I am relieved. This gives me time to reconsider how to proceed, particularly in how to modify my behavior so I don't start receiving inappropriate proposals from just any old chap. Not that my friend is any old chap. But I'd always suspected he'd be a footnote in my personal history, rather than a chapter.
Regardless, women ask me all the time how they too can harness their own brand of SSP. It's easy... like anything, practice makes perfect, and confidence in your abilities helps them grow. Start small. You must look the part. That does not mean looking like every Jane in a magazine, but you have to look like you. Your best you. If a certain article of clothing helps, go for it. My dearest Louise has a certain vest her friends all vote for. Not only does it accentuate her figure, but also she exudes confidence each time she wears it. Pair that with her righteous hair flowing in the breeze, and she can have any man she wants do anything she wants.
Next, don't be a nincompoop. Know that men are different than women. Men will inevitably be irritating from time to time, but when they are inclined to please, they can be very charming. Don't out and out ignore them (though not running to answer their little and frequent calls is more than acceptable), but give them enough attention to sate them. Again, using the beautiful and accomplished Lou as a positive example, think of the intrigue she has caused in her latest admirer, who we'll call Spencer (as that is his name). Louise is kind to Spencer. But when she was more interested in talking to her bestie (me) than him, he understood she is not a dunder-head who thinks of nothing but boys, and he tried even harder to be charming. And this does not work if you are trying to play a game, showcasing your avoidance. Read: to be successful and powerful, get a life. Get your own friends, your own hobbies, your own goals. They may not be what draws your admirers to you initially, but a man can only hold your attention for so long-- even the best of them. You must have a life outside men.
Finally, you must be genuinely kind. Men and women will be helpless against your power if you truly love them. You must treat the person with whom you are speaking as if they are the most important person in the world while you are together. Why did I find D.C.C. so obnoxious while we were dating? Because he was always on his cell phone when we were together. People know if you are looking over their shoulder-- literally or metaphorically-- for the next and better person to come along, and they do not appreciate it. Loving and appreciating others is easy when you get the hang of it. Make people feel good about themselves, and they will always want you around.
As I said before, this is dangerous. You young men so susceptible to women's charms, I don't want it to get back to me that I've done a disservice to mankind by telling women the truth here. Don't resent us when you find yourselves wanting to please us. We are pleasing, and so it is only natural. Of course that's true. It was, after all, your idea in the first place. ;)

By Way of Explanation

So I promise I didn't fall off the face of the earth. When was the last time I posted something? Late last week, right? For most people, this is not out of the norm. But as my fans have begged for my verbosity again, I'm pleased to accommodate. You know how it goes. Sometimes you have to get out and live a bit so you have something to write about. Quite happily, my weekend has provided many wonderful subjects of which I plan to cover in the next few days. However, I may open it up for a vote so I know what everyone wants to read... Lou requested an update on the laptop, which I've yet to open, though I did find a kickin' Betsy Johnson bag for it. It's on my to-do list this afternoon. I know the Brothers Divett are waiting with bated breath for my analysis of their latest show, with all the notes on the shocking "Dead Mary" performance. Van Time Girls are looking for an update on my love life, which I'm considering titling, "How the Elders Quorum President Gave Me A Hickey." Others just want me to spill my guts and secrets in any way possible. Anyway, I'm sure I will get to them all, but if you've got a request, by all means...
And for those of you who just like to hear what random madness is going on in my brain, I'll throw you a bone. Sometimes people just find me in a corner laughing to myself. The two stories I keep chuckling about involve a couple of my favorite girls.
1) HOW NOT TO DEAL WITH THE POOR: Once upon a time, I worked with the fabulous Summer. Summy was the queen of singing songs for days at a time. Her favorites quickly became my favorites, likely due to overexposure alone. Were it not for Sum, I'd never would have even bothered to see "Wicked," but when I did hit a matinee in London a bit later (starring Idina Menzel, thank you very much), I found myself singing along to "Popular," "I'm Not that Girl," and "Defying Gravity." I think of Summer every time Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" pops up on my iPod, and when I hear that elevator classic, "Always Something There to Remind Me" (though, thanks to a viral video, we'd always sing "Always Sentimental Remind Me"). On one special day, Summer's song of choice wasn't so much of a song as it was a line from a song. Over and over again, she'd bust out with "Even though you ain't got money, I'm so in love with ya honey." This wasn't a big deal, even if it did distract a bit whilst I was on the phone with news people. What makes this story charming is the fact that we worked in downtown Salt Lake City, in the heart of pan-handler and homeless district. Imagine Summer's shock when a homeless woman approached her on East Temple, SLC, asking for spare change. Without thinking, she started singing, "Even though you ain't got money..." before she realized what she'd done. She couldn't just not finish the song, so she fished out a dollar from her wallet as she sang the "I'm so in love with ya honey." Sum thinks the lady was too drunk to notice, but she still feels horrified.
2) HOW NOT TO DEAL WITH THE DISABLED: The other story deals with my dear friend Melissa. One night, we took Trax downtown to the Delta Center to check out the circus. Amidst all the PETA protesters was the usual crowd of Downtown Salt Lakers... you know who I mean: families with 17 children, young couples on elaborate dates (where the girl probably did the asking, and in some obnoxious, "creative" way), and of course, the aforementioned homeless people. As we walked along South Temple, I heard Melissa's sharp intake of breath. "What's wrong?" I asked. I thought maybe someone had tried to steal her purse or one of the thousands of children had run into the street or that we were about to witness an alien invasion. She quietly pointed to a panhandler-- an amputee on crutches with a little pug dog on a leash. I don't remember if he was selling something or just asking for money, but I think Melissa gave him a dollar, and then quickly walked away. I wanted to know what the big deal was. She said she feels guilty every time she sees that man because once she passed him and decided to stoop down to pet his dog. Apparently the dog loved her, and tried to run after her as she left. Of course, the strong little puppy was still attached to the leash his one-legged owner was holding, andthe man completely fell over. And I know it's really insensitive, but the image kills me every time.
So anyway, here's hoping this will hold you over until I get to those requests. Watch out-- I'm a blogging machine!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thoughts from a 28-year-old

OK, so the birthday's come and gone. 28 feels normal, natural. I think part of it is I start thinking of myself as the next year up about March or April. My little brother and I were laughing the other day because sometimes we actually forget how old we are. He has the excuse of a mission-- he said he always feels like he didn't age during the experience, though his maturity level changed dramatically (well, for the first week or so after he was home... then he was back to leaning on my mom in church and putting on her jewelry to entertain himself during sacrament meeting).
Anyway, the birthday was super. My friends and family were awesome, and I felt mighty loved. The very best part of the day was hanging out with the entire immediate fam. I love them all so much! I'd expected to spend the entire day with Zoey, but her mom took the day off because she wasn't feeling so well. Even though Zo-Zo is a lot of work, my day just felt empty without her. Still, it was a blessing, because I don't know how we would have controlled her while Aunt Ashley spent FIVE HOURS doing my hair. But pain is beauty and all that.
The next day, I got a taste of the family unity again. I arrived at work to find my father beat me there (a rare occurrence). Shortly thereafter, my little brother showed up to help dad shear some sheep. I was busy sending some bids to contractors when I heard Skye and Zoey come through the door to watch. Zoey wore her Reese's Peanut Butter Cup shirt, and walked up to Flower and Bethany (the sheep) and said, "Hey! Where are you going?" Skye looked radiant, even though she insisted she was grubby and on her way to wash her car. Then mom's friends Trish and Claire trickled in, along with Claire's beautiful daughter Christina. Anelia, the lady who cleans my mom's house periodically, was also around, and it felt like a party. If only Ashley and Robert were there, we would have been complete! But looking around at all these people just made me super happy. We all fit. We're all family. And that's better than any gift.
But in case you were wondering what kind of loot a 28-year-old gets, I'm here to accommodate. I'd expected only practical things. The one thing I'd asked for-- some shelves for my storage room-- I didn't get. But that's ok. I can take care of it on my own. I did get some underwear. Yes, that's what happens when you are an adult! But much to my surprise, I had many wonderful things as well-- jimmy-jams and a tablecloth and ta-da! A laptop. I'd not asked for one, but I think my parents were inspired to buy me something I can use to make money moonlighting with... think editing and freelance work, and of course, my own writing (the book stuff is coming along slowly-- I'm tentatively calling this phase of the project "The Hands that Hang Down"). It's extravagant, but also practical. This is why my brother got welding equipment one year. The Segos work with a will, even when they play.
Of course, that's not to gloss over the other wonderful surprises-- Ben, Skye and Zoey enabled my shopping weakness by passing along some gift cards, as did Claire and Christina. Ashley did my hair, which was pretty much the most generous gift of all time, and much-needed. I don't think I'd had a haircut since November, and I was starting to look like "The Shaggy Dog." Aunt Sylvia gave me a chest (with drawers, not implants), Aunt Bev a book and Aunt Trish some paper lanterns (note: I'm glossing over a lot-- the friends were also amazingly generous, but I'm thinking personal thank-you notes are better and more appropriate). The point is, I was spoiled as ever. It makes me uncomfortable-- everyone is so generous and kind-- but absolutely thankful. Mother bringing me a Baskin Robbins' Clown Cone (my favorite special treat in the world!) and taking me for a pedicure is kind of indicative of the whole day... luxurious and whimsical. Just like my life. Just the way I want it.
OK, one more quick moment of sharing before the bragging police come to take me away, here is my gift to myself: The globe lamp! I'm so super-in-love with this thing, and it's a perfect fit in my house. And at 50 percent off, plus a 15 percent birthday discount, I didn't have to feel like I just frittered away Jemima's college education. It's not often that something like a lamp will capture my attention and imagination in such a way, but it's been life-changing. When lit, it casts a warm glow over the kitchen and living room (which is impressive, considering it only uses a 25-watt bulb). It led to my discovery of the steampunk movement, which is harnessing all kinds of creativity, though don't expect me to be sporting Victorian garb and goggles anytime soon. The lamp feels like an heirloom piece. Someday Elaine Fairchild's kids can inherit it. It makes me soooo happy.
Another happy discovery: my new favorite actress. So I know everyone is all about Dakota Fanning and blah, blah, blah, but you know who rules? Mae Whitman. Against my better judgment, I rented "Nights in Rodanthe" last weekend. I'd read the book, though heaven knows my disdain for Nicholas Sparks and his emotional cheap-shots (oh, how I resent how they work on the feeble-minded! When people say their favorite book and/or movie is "The Notebook," I cringe and immediately judge them). Still, I love Richard Gere and figured I'd actually give it a shot, having seen a little part of it on the plane ride back from Barcelona.
My analysis: Ugh. I won't even bother with analysis. There's just not much to say beyond how disconcerting it is watching Richard Gere making out with Diane Lane. He looks like he's going to kill her. And, I guess that's often the way Richard Gere kisses in movies, but it felt particularly ooky in this one. Maybe because I have a hard time forgetting the actor and his work towards liberating Tibet. Or maybe because he's old and scarier than I'd remembered.
BUT the point was, before rambling about Richard, cute little Mae Whitman is in the flick, and made up for so much. She plays Diane Lane's rebel daughter, reeling from hormones and the effects of her parents' separation:

I just really like this girl. The character was flat and stereotypical, but Mae gave her some vitality. And all through any of her limited scenes, I'd think, "Where do I know that girl?" Imagine my surprise when I looked her up on imdb the next day and saw that she was the same little girl from "Hope Floats," even Bernice Pruitt!

That alone should give you an idea of how great this little girl is. I can't watch "Hope Floats" without being amazed with this gal. She's working steadily, voicing Tinkerbell in all the new Disney stuff. That's pretty cool, considering she's been making me love her work since "One Fine Day." But the BEST revelation?

She also played Ann Veal on "Arrested Development!" Comic genius!
You can tell how much I love her, because it's not often I go all fan-girl on people. But I'm in. She is my Jennifer Aniston, because I even had Ashley give me the Mae Whitman haircut the other day:

I know! How embarrassing, but I really think she's such a little superstar. Here's hoping she doesn't go all Lindsay or Mary-Kate on us.
OK, now that I've basically reverted back to being 12 (I love you, Joey McIntyre!), I can move on.
Being 28 is nice. I haven't had the feeling of complete empowerment that came with 26, or the euphoric soaring of 27... yet. They might come. But I look at my life and feel comfortable in my own skin. I no longer fall asleep, planning out how Prince Charming will come and sweep me off my feet. I go to bed planning the next day and how to make the most of it. I still dream about Disneyland every six weeks or so, though. No worries that I'm becoming completely hardened.
As a 28-year-old, I no longer think of the perfect day as reading teen lit, getting a pedicure, finding something on sale at Anthropologie, and going out for a night on the town with some handsome dude or other. Of course, those are all fun, and having done all those things this week (well, the fourth one is actually happening tonight if we stretch our definitions of "handsome" j/k), I still am up for any and all whenever the opportunity arises. But to me, now, in my "old age" and with the benefit of nearly three decades of life experiences, my perfect day now is one that starts with kneeling at my bedside in prayer. It includes exercise and doing all I can to take care of my spirit's temple. It requires an honest day's work, full of accomplishment. It is augmented by service-- within my immediate sphere of influence, and if possible, beyond it-- something for the greater good. The perfect day makes time for learning something new, and time to pursue my talents, particularly in writing and music. The perfect day to me is a day without falling short, losing my temper, blaming someone else for something that's my fault or beyond our control. My perfect days are those when I harness the whimsy in my life, and a day when I've let someone know I love them. A day wouldn't be perfect if it didn't include repentance and forgiveness and gratitude and kindness and a faithfulness to my various stewardships. The perfect day ends with flossing and brushing my teeth, moisturizing, reading my scriptures and again kneeling in prayer. And when you're 28, you may not have all those elements at once, but because your perception and requirements for perfection are more realistic and attainable, you get more of them. That is the blessing of 28.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

She Wears a Lot of Hats

I've said it before, but I play many roles in this life. Aside from the traditional, obvious ones, sometimes I like explore the less-common elements of who I am. For example, when I'm out doing yard work, I take great joy in wearing little-old-lady gardening gloves. They're not just for protection (though thank heavens I have them when fighting the weeds on my property), they're for character development. When I'm wearing the gloves, I can pretend that I'm not spreading manure or spraying my lawn with weed-n-feed. I can picture myself as a proper southern lady, tending her lovely garden. When I'm cooking in the kitchen, I don't wear an apron just to protect my clothes-- it's part of my uniform. It doesn't just say, "Kiss the Cook" (always a good idea), it says, "Hey! I'm Little Suzy Homemaker, and yes, my 103-year-old Great Grandmother DID make me this apron. I'm traditional."
Fashion and uniforms just have that way of helping you transform from one role to the other. Not that I haven't been known to wear fishnets and false eyelashes to work or church, but if I'm working a trade show, I'm wearing a Ray Sego Insulation shirt. If I'm working a movie premiere, I try to look professional and hip (no boxy lady suits for me, thank you very much).
And yet, no accessory will help identify my current position or preoccupation more easily than a hat. I love 'em. I have dozens of them. And I don't wear them enough.
I think the trouble really started in sixth grade. I used to wear a BYU hat every day-- as well as any other BYU paraphernalia I could get my hands on. Yes, I was even the kid with the annoying key chain playing the Cougar Fight Song (Rise, all loyal Cougars, and throw your challenge to the foe!). But I digress.
One fateful day (nearly 16 years ago to the day), I was on a class trip to Los Alamos. We'd gone to Fenton Lake in the Jemez Mountains, tooled around in Bandelier, visited the National Atomic Museum, and spent a fair amount of time swimming, scheming and in my case, swooning. The love of my life at the time (and just about every other girl's) was Joshua Jolly. Props to Christina Angel for marrying him. In sixth grade, he was such a stud! Actually, no, he was like, the biggest nerd on the planet, but we all know I've always loved the brainiacs.
Anyway, one night my chaperon, Annie Schaub, had compassion on her son Clay who was whining about being hungry. Annie got Clay's chaperon to agree to walk with us down to McDonald's. As fate would have it, Josh was Clay's roommate, and I felt oh-so-grown-up. After all, I'd be 12 in a matter of hours. So as we walked down a busy street in Los Alamos, I listened to Josh and some other little nerdy guy or another quote "Wayne's World" and thought, "Yes! This is my big break!" But it was not meant to be. Josh and I stood in line together, and gentlemanly as he was, he allowed me to order first. I asked for a Happy Meal. I paid the cashier. And then she said, "Thank you, young man."
YOUNG MAN? Even with my BYU baseball cap, I'd never considered for one moment that I looked like a boy! And actually, I'm pretty sure this woman was a bit of an idiot, but still. No more hats for me. Ironically, I had no problem wearing my special birthday outfit the next day (khaki shorts, a blue blazer and a blue plaid necktie I'd worn for the Zone competition of the Optimist Oratorical Contest, with my winning speech of "I Can Make A Difference"), which was a little "Dead Poet's Society" and private-boy's-school-chic, but whatever. That summer, I got an awful, layered haircut in an effort to look more feminine. I looked like Richard Simmons, so you can make the call on that one. Regardless, I was done with hats for a while.
Thankfully, I grew out of the awkward stage, and there's been a major return to hats and haberdashery in my life. Sometimes it's to make a statement, and sometimes it's just for fun.
The other day, I was in an antique store and found some great treasures:

Yes, those are fezzes. Why in the world would anyone (who's not a Shriner) want one? Well, my cousin Garret and I came up with a good plan last summer. We have an uncle with a large and lovely family. They're all pretty good people, but we sometimes laugh at their pretension. Every year for the family reunion, we go to a Mormon Pioneer Day celebration in Manassa, Colorado, and watch a parade. It's a grand tradition. But last year, it wasn't enough for Uncle Lane's family to watch. The million grandkids were actually IN the parade.
Now, I ought to say the float was lovely. The kids are adorable, and my cousin Lorilynn did an incredible job turning a trailer into a fantasy of tulle and tissue paper. Still, Garret and I thought it would be a grand idea to each don a fez, hop on four-wheelers, and ride alongside the float. There are always Shriners in the parade, so why not? It wasn't so much that we didn't have the nerve last year, we just didn't have the hats. Happily, that is no longer an obstacle.
In my years as a hat-wearer, I've adored myriad styles. For a while, I was strongly influenced by Molly McIntyre of "American Girl" fame, and wore a beret. In later years, the beret collection has proven useful especially when doing dramatic readings of beatnik poetry. I had to abandon them for a bit after someone told me I looked like Monica Lewinsky, but it feels like they're safe to wear again.
Sometimes, I'll even endorse the trendy hats. Newsboy caps are super cute, especially if they fit one's head well. This is occasionally a problem, because my own noggin is a bit on the large-side, but I recently found a super version of the newsboy at the airport in Barcelona. It was a good way to spend the last of my Euros.

Of course, there are other times when a hat is not at all popular with the mainstream folk. I once picked up a GREAT Rastafarian beret at Albuquerque's Buffalo Exchange. My favorite senior picture is a shot with this hat, which was much truer to my personality than the awful black missionary-style dress with the lace collar and pearl buttons. Guess which one my mom made me put in the yearbook? I lost that hat at EFY, and have been looking for a good replacement ever since.
In the mean time, I wear all sorts of inappropriate hats whenever possible. The pillbox hats I find at antique stores and garage sales delight me, even if they only end up as decorations in my guest room.
Once, on a trip to New York, I bought a hat purely for status reasons. It was my dream of dreams to buy something at Henri Bendel, which was ridiculous. I couldn't really afford anything there, and the entire sales staff knew it. But I found this crazy, Ascot-style hat on sale, and purchased it on the spot. I was pretty proud of myself as I walked from Bendel's back to my hotel in Times Square (hello, tourist!) and a bird flew over and pooped on my arm. Yes, the very arm with the Bendel's bag. I took it as a sign from heaven to stop being so prideful, but I have grown to love the hat. On a few occasions, I've even worn it to church, though as it is black, I'm always a little afraid I appear in mourning whilst wearing it.

As recently as last night, my head-wear has taken some dramatic and unexpected turns. Garret took me for a ride on his new motorcycle. I always knew I was a fan of the do-rag:

But imagine my delight in legitimately sporting a helmet! Incidentally, I truly prefer the Vespa set to the Harley folk, but a helmet opportunity is still an opportunity.

Since the McDonald's episode, I generally try to go for the more feminine looks-- the cloche is an excellent option, especially when one can find a version large enough to accommodate a lot of hair. Big hair is a blessing, but can be difficult if a faux-bob obstructs the intended line of the hat.

I love hats so much that I suspect someday my own wedding apparel will include a birdcage veil and hat:

So now all that's left to do is find a man who looks good in a Panama hat, and the rest will be history.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mine! No, wait, Yours!

Last night, the BEST THING EVER happened.
No, I didn't win the Albertson's Monopoly Game (though on Saturday night, I was briefly convinced I'd won a $1,000.00 gift card, but that was a false alarm).
No, I didn't have the people from ABC come knocking on my door to tell me I was going to be on "Extreme Makeover."
No, I didn't even get a letter from my beloved Jacob Hatch.
OK, so it wasn't the best thing ever. But it was rather funny.
So there's this girl I know from church. She is, to put it delicately, a handful. Nice girl, I suppose, but she has a reputation for being wildly inappropriate. She's a major bum-slapper (which is mostly a problem because she tends to do it to all these guys she doesn't know) and often throws out the false doctrine during Sunday School. She means well, but being around her can be more than a little taxing. Even writing this, I feel a little guilty, but those who know her would likely say I'm being more than generous.
Well, probably one of the more difficult aspects of her personality is that she's a bit of a claim-staker. We all know those girls. They let all the other girls know that some guy is "hers" and that the rest of us should keep our mitts off. The best thing about claim stakers is they never "claim" their boyfriend, because they inevitably don't have one. They just pick out any number of men they like (and yes, it's always more than one) and let all the other girls know he's (they're) the One, so stand back.
I've had a lot of experience with claim stakers. I think I even was one, back in high school. I was in LURVE with this boy (lurve because I thought it was love, though it was really just that childhood infatuation-- one of the most enjoyable times of my life, though the friendship was complex and silly, and now he's happily married and I am thrilled for him), and everyone in the world knew it. Including this girl who moved into my high school and moved in on my man. He took her to prom. I was devastated, and went to Utah with my mom instead. I remember when she showed me their prom pictures, and I wanted to slap her across her ugly face. But then I grew up. If he'd liked me, he would have asked ME to prom. So he didn't. So I moved on. And even though I can laugh about it now, I really thought she was the meanest girl ever.
In an effort to not duplicate her despicable actions, I became very aware of other girls' feelings. When my childhood best friend asked me to Prom the next year, I had to tell him no. Why couldn't I go? We would have had the best time ever! But this nice little German-Turkish exchange student had told me for months that her dream of dreams and the thing that would make her time in America absolutely complete would be if Justin took her to Prom. She didn't mean to be a claim-staker (I don't think), but I just couldn't face the idea of being her Danette, and ended up going with my friend Josette and only dancing with drunk Mr. Peters. Not the most fun night of my life, but I still left with the satisfaction that I'd not been THAT GIRL.
Well, fast forward ten years (ten years!) and I'm still trying to not be that girl. I've been on the other end of it plenty of times, though. In college, I had a MAJOR crush on a guy with curly brown hair and converse, who just happened to be a genius and a dreamer. He was the bomb. But this little girl I knew kind of weaseled her way into my life, establishing herself as my "best friend" (and don't get me wrong, I love her!) so she could get to this guy. She approached me saying, "well, you know Mr. Hot Face so much better than I do... could you put in a word for me?" Of course, it never worked. Because if he'd been interested in her, he would have asked her out. But in the mean time, when she asked me early on if I was interested in him, I certainly couldn't tell her the truth, because that would be breaking the girl code. I was stuck. Not that I would have had much more chance with Mr. Hot Face than she did, but her stalking him took a major toll on my relationship with him. Boo.
Anyway, the funny thing last night was when current claim-staker called, asking me for a major favor. She wanted to know if a certain man of our mutual acquaintance (read: one of my closest boy friends) was available. For one brief wicked moment, I thought about telling her, "Yes, please go forward full steam ahead" only because he spent about two months being super mean to me. But instead, I was honest and told her that he was seeing someone, and I thought they were exclusive. But of course, she wasn't phased. In true claim-staker fashion, she moved on to her No. 2 man, who just happens to be another boy who recently asked me out and then bailed at the last minute. I have very little use for him, so I gave her my whole-hearted endorsement. Perhaps this is wicked, but all's fair in love and war, right?
She then said, "Oh, Rach, who are you interested in? You're welcome to confide in me!" Um, no thanks. Because claim-stakers are inevitably back-stabbers as well. I was happy that I could honestly tell her I'm in the midst of a self-imposed sabbatical; that the last boy I thought I could be interested in has turned out to be far beneath my personal standards, and that I was honestly not interested in anyone. But you can bet that if my status changes, she'll be the last to know. In the meantime, I am kept plenty busy with girls walking me out to some parking lot or another telling me who I'm not allowed to go out with. Joke's on them, though, because I don't want them anyway.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Runaway Train

The scary people across the street have moved back into the burnt-out, meth-lab house. Or at least, they've been seen milling around, carting things in and out at strange hours of the night. They always come in mid-spring when the wisteria blooms. I notice because the rest of the time, the ramshackle shanty is deserted, and I'm always tempted to go pick a bloom off their over sized wisteria outside their gate. I don't because it's stealing. But I mostly don't because I know they're around, lurking behind the corroding wall and disintegrating foundation.
I live in fear of these neighbors, whose patriarch used to help himself to my water and electricity until I asked him to stop. My mailbox is across the street, right in front of their house, and it makes me too nervous to check the mail if I know they're around.
This morning, I noticed a package strapped to my mailbox, so I drove up and gathered several day's worth of post on my way to work. The package was from my cousin-- I assume it's for my birthday, so I've not opened it. There was a propane bill and an ad from Qwest. I had a bank statement regarding my savings account, and opening it made me happy that all my study on budgeting and provident living has not been a waste of time. But the most interesting envelope was a wedding announcement from a former boyfriend. The colors were beautiful. The brown patterns on the top and bottom of the announcement evoked a gorgeous elegance. Even the map insert was beautiful (save the registry information-- though the font was one of my favorites, I just can never get behind people including it in their announcements-- tacky, tacky, tacky). The thing that really caught my attention, though, was the engagement picture. The bride is beautiful, and a very sweet person. I liked that they chose sepia, because it went so perfectly with the announcement. But the bride and groom are pictured sitting on train tracks. I think they meant to suggest they were beginning a long, eternal journey together. But I couldn't help thinking that the groom (bless his heart) is a bit of a train wreck, and that his wife will be tied to the tracks. I sincerely wish them luck as they untie and rescue one another, and pray they don't get hit.
I'm a train myself. I chug along, doing my job. Passengers come and go, and in the case of several erst-while boyfriends, hop off and on several times before they move on to another train, another destination. I carry the goods to those who need it. My cars hold compassion and artistry, insulation and food. I make deliveries and chug, chug, chug along. Occasionally, I warn people to get out of the way, but sometimes I can't stop and I run over those who play on the tracks. Most people watch respectfully as I pass, but a few cars on the road honk and moan, waiting for me to get out of their way. I loudly announce my presence wherever I go, and some find it comforting. Some find it disturbing. So people just think I should keep quiet, but then there is a greater risk of someone getting hit again. I move from place to place on a sure path that will take me where I'm going, though sometimes the journey seems a bit out of the way. I love being loaded down, being useful, but there are times it feels so wonderful and free to be rid of whatever it was I carried, so I can race on to my next destination and pickup, unhampered and at lightening speed.
Sometimes I turn into the Little Engine that Could, chanting "I think I can," when all around me the skeptics laugh and tell me to leave it for one of the bigger trains or the grander models. I pass others on parallel or diverging tracks, interested in what they carry and where their journey will take them, though inevitably, it is at some point far away from me. I love the independence of hauling a load by myself, but I often look forward to working in tandem with another engine so we can haul twice the load and not have to go it alone. I don't mind being the second engine-- the follower. A cross-country trip is not any less of an adventure rolling behind someone as they pull me, and I pull the weight behind me. I look forward to that kind of power.
Workin' on the railroad all the live-long day is a good life. There is joy to be found hauling the things people need. The traveler in me is fulfilled in the journey. I love fixing things and running the show like a real engineer. Even carrying an occasional bum isn't so bad, because I get rewarded with a sweet little tune on the harmonica, reminding me that I'm not lonely. The bum can't stay, but he makes the ride more interesting. And sometimes, when I'm lucky, that chant to Dinah and her someone in the kitchen goes from "I think I can" to "I know I will."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Ode to Sean McKissick on his 28th Birthday

Once upon a time, I went to Brigham Young University. I arrived as a wide-eyed freshman, and quickly fell in love with my life there. The first two semesters at the Brigham were particularly magical-- full of lots great classes, staying up all night doing crazy things with my friends, going out on dates, etc., etc. I got in on all sorts of fun, watching friends burn furniture at Rock Canyon Park, going to the midnight movie and screaming all the way home after "Psycho" and "Wait Until Dark," and would often come home to find little presents like dead goldfish outside my door. I spent most of my time with a group of guys I affectionately refer to as "the mean boys," who all lived on the 2100 floor of May Hall. Those were some great times.
Well, fast forward a couple of years to when I was a junior and working at the Daily Universe as an editor. One of my good friends, Heather, was also an editor, and we spent a lot of time talking about how excited she was for Sean McKissick, a guy from our freshman ward, to come home from his mission to Mexico. He'd be there in a few weeks, and he was all Heather could think about (which is saying a lot because this girl is a hard-core journalist).
And the whole time I said, "Who?" Because Sean was a little quiet and shy. Well, no he wasn't, but we never said a word to one another during our freshman year because he lived on the 3100 floor of May Hall, and I couldn't be bothered to hang out with the nice boys. I just knew him as "that guy who did the WWE wrestling routine for the talent show" and something called "The Butt-Wiggle Dance." But I was happy for Heather.
Actually, I may have run into Sean before Heather even got to see him. He was fresh off the mission and walking around campus, stopping at the Daily Universe Information Booth in the quad. I think I might have even said, "Hey, aren't you Sean McKissick?" and the rest was history.
Sean and Heather dated for a while. He started calling me for advice, and we'd talk for hours. Very early in this calling stage, I remember thinking, "Oh, Heather! If only I could steal this guy away! He's so freakin' awesome and I have a huge crush on him!" But I'm not that girl. And by the time Heather (mistakenly, if you ask me) dumped Sean for Abe Gong (another guy I never knew freshman year), we were already firmly planted in friendship land, and that was that.
For the next several years, Sean was my number-one, tip-top pal. He wrote me sonnets and burned me CDs of the best music ever (oh my gosh! why wasn't he my boyfriend? Just kidding!). We went on a road trip to Disneyland together with some of our other friends. Sean gave me blessings. Sean went to the grocery store with me in preparation for parties. We went to our friend Eddie's concerts together. We watched movies and he even got me to not loathe baseball. Actually, looking back on it, I really don't remember what we even did together, but when I think about college, I think about Sean.
As we got older, Sean got even more popular with the ladies, and I was his number-one cheerleader. Of course, I made fun of some of these girls, like Data (still don't remember what her real name was-- and I'm not sure Sean does either). But then there were the ones I really liked, like Shelly and Rachel #2.
All this time, Sean was moving pianos for me, and coming to my parties, and calling me every other day, listening to me whine about the one-true-love-of-my-life/obsession (Andrew), and being awesome. Then he up and moved to California because he suddenly was going to be a lawyer. And then the beautiful Rachel #2 wrote him a letter from her mission letting him know she was interested in getting together when she got home. I think he called me from the bathroom. His head was swimming, and he couldn't get up. And I knew he was a goner.
Sure enough, Sean came into town right after Christmas. I gave him his "Mystery King" luchador mask, he gave me a Johnny Depp bobblehead, and I saw he was in love. And it was just a couple months later, and Sean was married to sweet Rachel (now Rachel #1). I watched them taking pictures outside the temple, and heard Sean say, "Where's my wife?" and I couldn't have been more proud of and happy for him.
This is a picture from his bachelor party. It was at Golden Corral, his favorite place to eat. Kari and I made the cut and joined up with the boys on this one. Addie was there, too, in Kari's womb. Of course I was there. Someone had to tell him that he needed to get Rachel #1 a wedding gift, and someone had to find out the title of a book he needed to read, recommended to all the members of the Marriage Prep class ("The Act of Marriage" saves the day, apparently). At Sean's wedding reception, I gave in and even stood under the balcony to try to catch Rachel #1's bouquet. Sean's good friend Charlotte (or friend Good Charlotte, for the sake of the story) caught it, but I wrestled away a peony. Sean told me not to worry-- that I was the next to get married because I was the only one left of the group. I don't know what happened to Char, except she'd served a mission. I'm guessing she's married and procreating by now. I put the peony in my hair and later that evening, my boyfriend Chevron told me it was beautiful. I ate delicious cake that night and watched Sean and R#1 dance to Eddie playing Ben Fold's "The Luckiest." I hugged and kissed Sean's grandparents-- the Simi Valley couple we stayed with on our jaunt to SoCal. They loved Ronald Reagan, and because I plan on naming a daughter after him someday, they loved me too. As I watched Sean nervously drive away with his beautiful bride, all I could think was my little boy had grown up.
Of course, we don't talk much anymore-- usually just on our birthdays. I don't call him because I'd never want his gracious wife to think I am inappropriate. He did call to tell me when he passed the bar. I did call him when I thought I was in love.
My little friend is a man of 28 today. I hope he gets to watch some wrestling or baseball. I hope he gets to eat something better than Golden Corral (because the best part of one of trips was watching my roommate Vanessa a) steal rolls and b) get a grease mark all around her mouth from the honey butter), and that he listens to some Young Dubliners or Wilco or Bruce Springsteen. I hope he finds some Combos or potato logs at his local convenience store. I hope he'll write something, because he's one of the most gifted writers I know. I hope he'll say a little prayer of thanks, like I did, that we had Heather to bring us together, and that she dumped him. If not for trading him in for weird Abe, he might not have ever married beautiful Rachel #1, or been the best friend in the world to Rachel #2.