Monday, March 31, 2008

funny every time...

my editor, barb, and my co-worker, becky, are completely obsessed with funny cat photos, and look at them all day long. when there are problems with the funny cat photo web site, major panic, wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues. and no, that is not an exaggeration.

i, you may or may not know, am not super into animals, so this phenomenon is something of a mystery to me. i do not own animals. i do not watch movies where animals talk, or save the day. i am not very amused by people dressed as animals, and i am usually opposed to animals dressed as people. (an exception to this rule is an animal costume that features fake muscles. those are pretty rad.) i recently discovered, though, that animals dressed as other animals can be endlessly hysterical. see for yourselves. i saved this photo on my computer desktop at work, and i open it about once a day. i'm not quite sure exactly what it is, but it gets me every single time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

salt lake, it's my city

my old friend, peter, and some friends of his were in town over the weekend for some skiing. we were supposed to meet up, but i was laid low with a nasty bug i most certainly caught on my horrific return flight from new york and could barely make it out of the house for most of the weekend, so i had to settle for giving peter and co. recommendations on various activities and, more importantly, restaurants.

now, most people do not come to slc expecting to enjoy good food (peter and co. certainly didn't) but i sent them to two of my favorite local haunts, mazza at ninth and ninth (where i had just enjoyed a delicious dinner with my wonderful father) and that old stand-by, the red iguana. and everyone raved about both of them! i felt totally cool and not just because i had made yummy and well-received food suggestions. it really drove home the feeling that a) salt lake has become my home and b) salt lake is not a bad home to have. i was so proud of myself that i could send them somewhere (even two somewheres) that i could be proud of in this crazy city. a crazy city i have come, against all odds, to know and love. and that is, existentially-speaking, a pretty good place to "be."

by monday i was feeling more myself, so we rounded out the weekend of fine dining with the world's best sandwiches at toasters. three for three.

and then, they were off. but i think, against odds of their own, they'll be back. just like the rest of us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

to my mother, on her birthday

i know i just posted about my mom (the italian plaster drama ended safely, by the way), but today is her birthday, and a little birthday blog shout-out just seemed like the thing to do. (not that the completely awesome avacado slicer i got her wasn't enough, but sometimes you just want to give a little somethin' extra, you know?)

anyway, i thought of listing one thing i love about my mom for each year that she has graced God's green earth, but then you would all know how old she is and i didn't clear that with her first. so, instead, here are the top 11 things i love about my mother (who is, lest there be any confusion, certainly more than 11 years old).

1. she gave me life (it wasn't easy, but i daresay it was worth it. any opposed?)
2. she never speaks an unkind word, or, perhaps more remarkably, any unkind words strung together. she can, and does, see the good in everything and everyone.
3. she is unafraid. a new, scary job? done. a big, scary move (sometimes overseas, and sometimes with babies)? breezy. sending her kids to college, on missions and long motorcycle rides? not a blink. she embraces the unknown, and it embraces her right back.
4. she is loved. not just by me, by everyone. just as my mother never speaks an unkind word, i have never heard an unkind word spoken of her. and that's saying something, i think.
5. she is hip and hilarious. she has red shoes and says things like, "what's the haps?" and laughs out loud and signs cards with, "i heart you." she watches "the office" and "clerks." she loves jack black and owen wilson. she joined an organic farm co-op. she plays the autoharp and dances in the kitchen.
6. she is honest. and she is wise. she mourns loss but doesn't dwell on it.
7. she always gets her way, but never at the expense of other people. somehow, everyone else is convinced that they are getting their way, too. (this is not scary or manipulative, this is a gift. one i am still trying to master.)
8. she sends me valentine's boxes and easter dresses and decorates for every holiday. a lot.
9. she loves fresh flowers, especially from the farmer's market.
10. she collects. her most extensive collection is one of funky pottery from the 1950s. she actually has a dealer who brings new pieces to her house. this fills me with glee.
11. she knows herself and she is herself. this is that rare talent that is difficult to explain, but impossible not to notice. she is confident so she can build up others. she loves herself so she can love others. she understands true beauty and so she can see it everywhere. she doesn't need make-up or fashion magazines, or attention or praise. she is whole.

to my darling mother. may your day be happy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

coming home (an epilogue)

the pure delight and joy of my weekend in nyc were matched by an opposingly horrific and frustrating return flight. it all started when i got to the airport and saw this long and stalled line.

it made me sort of nervous because i hadn't left myself much of a time cushion. i got even more nervous when the ticketing agent told me the flight was delayed by 40 minutes, because i only had a 55 minute window to make a connection in las vegas. she assured me the pilot was a fast flier and all would be well.

she lied.

forty minutes turned into more like an hour late boarding, but i still had confidence we could make up the time. sitting on the runway for two hours, however, waiting for your turn to take off, can really set you back beyond recovery. luckily, the time flew by thanks to my cool seatmates, devin and stephen.

devin is a returning peace corps volunteer, on his way home from two years in ukraine, and stephen is a carpenter/electrician/volunteer firefighter on long island who had saved two lives earlier in the day and was on his way to spend time with an uncle in oregon.

the fun and games are over, though, when a mechanical problem forces you back to the gate. (especially if you really have to go to the bathroom. which i did.) after a little more than two hours on the runway, we were right back where we started, except this time people were swearing and demanding to be let off the plane. the doors opened, the demanders left, and the rest of us got some yummy snacks and water to smooth things over. eavesdropping on a conversation between two flight attendants while i waited in line for the bathroom, i heard this:

flight attendant #1: we're bringing in some snacks and catering is going to bring extra bottles of water to keep people happy.
flight attendant #2: the usual snacks?
flight attendant #1: no, not the crap we normally serve. it's nice stuff. from a different airline.

the mechanical problem was a relatively quick fix, and approximately four hours after our scheduled departure time, we were off. we landed in vegas a little after 3a.m. and found ourselves shuttled to hotels and rebooked on flights leaving the next day. i was pretty cranky (ok, really cranky) by this point in the game, but the bed was big and fluffy, and i slept like a babe until people started calling me the next morning to figure out where i was.

as you might imagine, rebooking an entire plane full of people creates some logistical problems, and it resulted in an amazingly inefficient flight plan, about which i was not amused. i left vegas at 1 in the afternoon, flew to phoenix and spent a little more than two completely un-fun hours there...

before finally getting on a flight home, a full 20 hours after my original flight would have landed.

the silver lining? they put me in first class for the final leg, and this little pre-flight treat made it (almost) all better.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

i heart NYC (a photo essay)

one of the signs of true, independent adulthood is, i think, spontaneous travel, which i undertook this weekend with a close-to-the-last-minute trip to new york. i am happy to be at a place in my life where i've been to new york enough times that i don't have to worry about actually "doing" anything while i am there, so my agenda was nothing more than catching up with old and dear friends, which i did plenty of. before i get to a play-by-play of the weekend (complete with photo documentation) i will say that i had two firsts on this trip: 1. i used a car service to pick me up at the airport! (quite possibly another sign of true, independent adulthood) and 2. i was asked twice for directions, which says to me that i have finally lost the deer-caught-in-new-york-headlights look that a lot of visitors have (and the direction-seekers caught me at a moment when i didn't have a map unfolded).

on the flight over i was seated in the middle of a rambunctious group of new york locals returning from a boys' ski weekend. they cajoled eachother and talked out loud to their movies the whole flight. we also all enjoyed observing the antics of one of our flight attendants, who looked just like uncle frank from the "home alone" movies. (look what you did, you little jerk!) uncle frank's high point is a toss up between when he sat a bag of garbage right in the lap of the man sitting next to me and walked away with no explanation, and when he got into an altercation with the two women sitting in front of us about headphones.

i arrived on the upper west side thanks to the magical car service (after asking about five drivers if they were 1658. best response: "i wish i was") and crashed with my old roommate and dear dear friend, jane. the rest of the weekend was as follows.

on the subway with the man sitting next to me:

him: do you know where you're going?
me: yes, i think i'm all set, but thank you.
him: where are you visiting from?
me: i live in utah.
him: whereabouts?
me: salt lake city.
him: are you LDS?
me: yes, i am.
him: my daughter was married a year ago february in the mount pimpanooga temple.
silence and blinking.
me: um, the mount timpanogos temple?
him: yeah, that's the one. i was close. i spent a day in salt lake city at the family history library.
me: oh, that's wonderful.
(it has been my experience that people who go to the family history library do so on purpose, and are glad they did, so i thought this was a safe response.)
him: wonderful, are you kidding me? i was stuck there. i couldn't fly out because it was snowing in minneapolis. that's a real boring place you got there, salt lake city.
me: i think this is my stop.

lunch with carl.

he is so important he has a secretary and has to send e-mails while he is eating (he feels bad about it though, so you can't be mad). burgers, milkshakes and lots of laughing. just the way i like it.

walking to meet ryan i pass this intriguing place of worship, which shares a building with a mcdonalds.

i also walk past radio city music hall (how awesome would it be to be a rockette?)

and see a man carrying a comforter down the street like it ain't no thing.

ryan's apartment has a stunning view,

but a small kitchen.

a run of the mill subway ride turns exciting when a man rollerblades in.

we also spend some time debating this rather ill-advised tylenol ad campaign.

(if everyone starts getting massages to take care of headaches, then no one will buy tylenol, right? seemed like a bad strategy to us.)

at the strand bookstore (18 miles of books!) we play my favorite bookstore game: who can put together the most unlikely and/or hilarious combination of three book titles. i did pretty well with "radical christinity," "meetings, meetings and more meetings" and a book about wine tasting with "drunk" in the title, but ryan wins later with "a guide to building your own entourage" and "celebrity dads."

wandering down the street we come upon this costume shop, where the clerks say things such as, "bat wings? well, do you see the enormous red shoes? walk to those and then take a left..."

we also meet a harried young man searching for a regal looking coat for a jewish holiday. ryan didn't want his picture taken in front of the store because he said it could be mistaken for "one of *those* costume shops," but i made him.

we got lost around washington square park (where i get lost every single time i go to new york) but finally make it to pinkberry.

and see a fleshy and hairy man with a full body tattoo that may or may not have been a map of manhattan (i thought i saw chelsea on his arm). hot.

dinner was korean barbecue on the upper west side with jane and her betrothed.

they spent a lot of time whispering to eachother, so i made new friends with justin.

on saturday adam and i went to the moma. (note: i had not seen adam in three years, and it was too long.) people were scalping tickets outside the museum.

we found this strange. also strange? the "design and the elastic mind" exhibit we went to see.

the afternoon was sunny and delightful, so we walked along fifth avenue

and stopped in at the new york public library.

adam was temporarily drawn off track by some delicious-looking cornbread in a bakery window.

but he resisted and we made it to the east village and noodles with robin, fortuitously in town from san francisco.

after a wonderful performance of "the seagull," starring alan cumming and dianne wiest, robin and i headed to a wine bar (i had italian soda) to meet some friends of his.

it was great conversation and the time flew by, but by 3a.m., when the bar was closing, we were ready to go home.

but not before an early morning stop at the neighborhppd bodega.

sunday after church i met ben, who i have not seen in five whole years! he is like another version of myself and it was oh-so-wonderful to be reunited. we drank hot chocolate and talked about boys.

in the cab on my way to the airport my cab driver (who was "basically" from india) asked me how old i was. he was only 24, "but i've had experience." silence. "not with the woman. just with life." glad he clarified. that could have been awkward.

and then, good-bye nyc. i heart you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

new york by way of the new yorker

in what can only be a divinely-inspired coincidence, i was pulled out of work today (not like it was hard to get to me to leave), the very day i am leaving for a long weekend in new york, to attend a luncheon at... the new yorker! chew on that for a minute. deep, huh? (and, my petit filet mignon was divine.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

on the phone with mom

my mother (hi, mom!) is a very capable and talented public relations professional with an entirely bizarre specialty. most of her clients are involved in construction or industrial products of some kind, so she is always talking about duct insulator and paint finishes and her work appears in such highly-circulated periodicals as "concrete decor." (i am not kidding about this. "concrete decor" magazine really exists. and it loves my mom.)

here is a conversation i just had with her.

me: how are things there?
my mom (with a sigh): well, i'm stuck in the middle of a big brouhaha between natural lime and synthetic Italian plaster manufacturers.
me (unable to contain my giggles): ah, the life you lead.
my mom (in all seriousness): i know. i hope i survive.

silence on her end and more giggles on mine. and then, this gem.

my mom: i'm just being silly, frances. i'm sure i'll make it through.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


this is a post about our lovely friend, dana. dana came to us in the usually convoluted way of social networks... she had a friend at stanford who knew someone who knew susan, or some such thing, and she popped up in our book club about a year ago, much to everyone's delight. (dana and i also discovered another convoluted and bizarre social connection involving my friend, adam, a bet and jdate.) much to everyone's chagrin (except, i guess, those people whose civil rights she now defends at the department of justice), she left us last summer when her law clerking stint was up, but she was back in town last weekend for a law clerk reunion, which meant a weekend of fun and celebration.

friday, dana, susan and i met up for lunch and some shopping, followed by fruit smoothies/chai/lattes/ (that was the beginning of a very clear food theme.) as i didn't need anything at the mall, i spent most of the time admiring myself in various three-way mirrors.

saturday we lost her to the clutches of the clerks, but it made for great stories, mostly revolving around the judge's ill-advised sweater, as well as some unfortunate eyebrows and the unwanted antics of the man attached to them. sunday we reconvened for dinner and a retelling of our most embarrassing (and hilarious) date stories. i won't attribute them to protect the not-so-innocent but, breaking up with a handicapped person over the phone, a 12-month plan culminating in initial verbal contact, crying on a date and juggling two suitors on valentine's day were some of the winners. (ok, crying on a date was me, and i am not afraid to admit it. what was i supposed to do? he was asleep for sobbing out loud. and sob out loud is exactly what i did.)

behold the documentation of good times had by all.

this is how happy dana and dave are to see eachother. swinging and flying through the air happy.

this is how happy jess is that we all came over. not very.

this is what happens when you say, "dave, let's take a picture together."

this is how i look recovering from a major laughing attack (susan and dana were clearly not similarly afflicted. and dana looks like she might be saying something about me being insane, while susan has the patient look of someone who has seen it all before.)

this is what happens when we don't make room for jess on the couch.

this is what happens when you put dave in charge of taking a group picture with the timer. jess has a lovely wall, doesn't she?

this is what happens when i take over. much better, wouldn't you say?

the weekend of extreme reunion fun may or may not have ended with a midday trip to the movies on monday, disguised as a long lunch/emergency trip to the mechanic. the movie may or may not have been "step up 2: the streets" and it may or may not have been the best movie ever. i'll let you decide.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the case of the spontaneously reproducing baked goods

i went into the break room yesterday morning to get a drink of water, and there was an apple pie sitting on top of the water cooler. a little while later, when i went to get something from the printer, the apple pie had been joined by a peach pie, same size with the equivalent of two slices missing. not too long after that, the pies were joined by a box of cupcakes. no explanation was forthcoming and there was no evident source. it was as if baked goods were spontaneously reproducing on their own. it creeped me out a little, but i can never walk away from a cupcake, especially one with a lot of frosting.

towards the end of the day, my publisher came to my desk, peach pie in his hands and quizzical look on his face.

him: do you know anything about this?
me: no.
him: are you going to eat any of it?
me: no.
him: i think i'm going to take it home.

and off he went, pie in hands.

this morning there was only one piece of apple pie left. all traces of the cupcakes, including the large box in which they came, have vanished. the investigation is still open.