Wednesday, November 26, 2008

hi, i'm earth. have we met?

to read this here blog lately, one might make the (incorrect) assumption that i am baby crazy. i assure you that such is not the case. as it happens, i have never been one for the blanket adoration of all babies because, frankly, there are some babies i just don't like. (and i won't name any names, so don't even try to get me to spill. all right, fine. i will admit that suri cruise sort of gives me the creeps. but she's probably not a real baby anyway.)

on the other hand, there are some special babies who i adore very much and want to see all the time. and brand new baby natalie is one of them. probably because she belongs to such a special friend.

when joelle told me she was pregnant, i could not wait for that baby to come. i wanted to talk about the baby all the time: was it a girl or a boy? was the baby kicking? what names were joelle and her husband thinking about? would she call me as soon as the baby came? could the baby call me auntie fran? i bought the baby all my favorite "frances the badger" books and planned all the fun things we would do together once she got here.

and then, the miracle.

joelle was willing to stay my friend through the onset of this most unexpected and unfamiliar baby craziness.

and then, the second miracle.

miss natalie elizabeth joined us here.

she is small and perfect and has all her fingers and all her toes and squints her eyes when she sleeps and stretches out her long skinny legs and has beautiful dark hair and will snuggle into your bosoms and stay there while you talk about how tiny and adorable she is.

now that natalie and i have met and bonded, the next order of business is to introduce her to my other object of baby lust, baby kyle, so they can meet and fall in baby love (or lust. however babies roll) and then they will never be able to leave me because of their endless debt of gratitude.

i have also decided that i would be cool with not having babies of my own, as long as my friends keep doing such a good job. pressure's on, people. hop to it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

kissing cousins

tonight is the annual grant family reunion. it is a massive display of relational togetherness. the refreshments always include pigs-in-a-blanket. the grant family reunion is also the scene of my discovery, three years ago almost to the day, that i was, in fact, dating my cousin.

no, most unfortunately, your eyes do not deceive you. yes, most unfortunately, i dated my cousin. briefly. and he is actually my third cousin. but neither of those things made it any better. third cousins might be legal, but it is still totally gross. as soon as you realize that's what's going on, of course. which i did realize. in the middle of a family reunion. the story goes a little something like this.

when i first moved to salt lake, three eventful years ago, my new co-worker, we'll call her ruth, came to my desk and said she wanted to set me up on a blind date with her step-brother. let's call him jake. blind dates were a whole new thing to me then (i know better, much better, now) and i was anxious to meet people and ruth was (and still is) a cool cat, so i agreed.

date number one went well, as did date number two, as did date number three and so on, until jake and i had been hanging out for a couple months. i really, really liked jake, and much to my dismay, there had been no lip-locking. but that turned out to be a blessing. as you will shortly see.

november rolled around and it was time for the grant family reunion, a gathering of the countless descendants of my great-great-grandfather and his three wives. (no, your eyes do not deceive you. three wives. ask a mormon.) it is a pretty big gathering of assorted kin, and i was really looking forward to it as, having never lived in utah before, i had never attended the grant family reunion. i had heard especially good things about the pigs-in-a-blanket.

so, there i was, sitting in the chapel with my roommate/cousin/friend anne (real name, because she has nothing to hide), waiting for the program to start, when anne turned to me and said, "that guy who just walked in totally looks like he could be jake's brother."

i turned around. she was right.

a few seconds later there was a death grip on my thigh.

"it is jake's brother!" anne hissed. "because jake just walked in."

i turned around again and there, to my horror, standing right before my eyes, was my object of great affection. at my family reunion. what was he doing there? well, sad reader, it was his family reunion, too.

immediately i had what i can only assume was the oft-talked-about crisis management response of flight or fight. i could run away, never to return again, disown my family and continue in genetically-dangerous bliss. i could run away, stop returning his phone calls and hope for the best. or, i could stay and confront this, the most awkward and horrible moment of my life.

can you guess what i did?

i stayed.

but really only because intense panic had me rooted to the seat. and because jake hadn't seen me yet, and getting up and running away and possibly barfing before i made it out the door would only draw attention i was trying to avoid. it was, i assure you, complete agony. i am surprised my eyes didn't catch on fire with all the blushing.

as soon as the program was over, i got up and bolted into the room where we were having refreshments (read: pigs-in-a-blanket). he still hadn't seen me. what to do? i couldn't leave now, with delicious cocktail sausages wrapped in soft, flaky pastries right before me eyes.

my phone rang.

it was jake.

i answered.

me: "hello?"
him: "hey, i was just calling to see what you're up to tonight."
me: "well, actually, i am at this family thing."
him: "that's funny. me, too."

i walked back into the room where he was. he saw me. i waved. "same family," i whimpered.

the rest is all sort of a blur. there was some awkward laughing, some quick genealogy and then a super painful exchange of "hey cousin" with little punches on the arm before we both ran away, me to the pigs-in-a-blanket. i was hoping to keep the whole terrible thing on the down-low, but word spread pretty fast. probably because of this little exchange between me, anne and our cousin, david.

david: "well, i just have to say that some of these grant boy cousins are very attractive. like those two brothers over there."
anne: "funny you should mention it. frances agrees. she's dating the one on the left."
me: shamed silence.

or when my grandpa came up to me and said, "i know jake! of course. i see him here every year. why didn't you tell me it was him?"

my cousin bruce came over and said, "you really shouldn't let this stand in your way. it's not that big of a deal. they're not even going to have the grant family reunion anymore, so this will never happen again." why no more grant family reunion? i asked. "too many cousins dating," he replied. "totally awkward. we're just going to get together at the weddings."

totally not funny.

despite a little research, which revealed that third cousins is not only legal but genetically unconcerning, i don't think you'll be surprised to hear that it did not last for me and jake. in fact, the next time we spoke was at the grant family reunion a year later. the humiliation has (mostly) faded by now, and the whole experience has turned into one of my greatest hits as far as bad dating stories go, which i guess is a good thing, as those things go.

it certainly has changed the way i go about dating. for one thing, i demand a fairly specific family tree run-down before things get too serious. and i try a lot harder to remember my cousin's names, along with unusual stories about them that might throw up a red flag. (the scene: first date dinner. him: "well, this one time when i almost lost my arm in a shark attack in barbados..." me: "who did you say your great-great-grandfather was?")

but, most importantly, i never miss a grant family reunion. you just never know who might turn up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

small donations bless many nations

sallee and i decided to spend some quality time at the d.i. last week. for those of you (un)fortunate enough not to live in the bosom of zion (also the bosom of the d.i.), allow me to fill you in. the d.i. is the mecca of thrift store pilgrimage, a constant source of 80s prom dresses, ugly christmas sweaters, non-intentional halloween costumes and, we discovered last week, tapered leather pants. the d.i. is also the best place to look for cheap shoes and cheap books, which is what took us on our spiritual journey in the first place.

after browsing the upper level (yes indeed, this is a two-tiered operation. sort of like heaven. sort of), we went downstairs to check out the furniture. note to the d.i.: cool orange chairs do count as furniture, even though they are uncomfortable.

backseats taken out of minivans do not.

anywho, there we were, gossiping while i tried on some skirts over my pants and who should appear but... keri and jen!

thus strengthening my already vibrant testimony that the d.i. is a place of miracles. and great savings.

and to that, brothers and sisters, i say amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

doobie time

the fact that i can say i have "old college friends" is a little bit scary, but my old college friend chris came into town today. to protect chris' identity from all those interweb snoopers, i won't reveal his last name, but i will say that it means "of the woods" in french, and it can be easily and charmingly shortened to doobie. i am probably not the first person to come up with that nickname, but i like to think that i was.

so, anyway, doobie came into town today. he's here for business school interviews in the land southward, where i try not to go, but luckily the airport is in salt lake. so, i picked him up and we had a grand old time hanging out at ikea (i am willing to go south for cheap furniture) before he completed his migration.

doobie and i enjoyed our time testing out floral couches and fancy desk chairs while i caught him up on the intricacies of human-vampire romance. (that's right, doobie is going to see "twilight" this weekend. twice. because, as he rightly points out, it's never a good idea to turn down a girl who asks you to a movie.) we also talked about work drama, politics, dating and the economy. and, did you know ikea has these little machines (for little kids, but doobie and i scoff at social convention) where you can draw pictures and play matching games? in english and spanish? they're pretty awesome. and, speaking of scoffing at social convention, we also saw a woman breastfeeding on one of the showroom recliners, and a massive display of PDA next to the stuffed animals. note to anyone who might be interested: furniture stores are not the place for kissing. or lactation.

and then, doobie and i enjoyed a slice of chocolate cake.

and, i replaced the ikea picture frames i had that broke (as in, i broke them) a few months ago. because ikea is fun, yes, but quality? not always so much.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


anna and i decided to have a party.

we thought a pie party sounded pretty good. but a soup party sounded good, too. and then we thought, why not have a soup and pie party? we make the soup, you bring the pie and everyone's wildest dreams come true. turns out we were right.

i made cheesy-vegetable soup (anything that calls for whole sticks of butter is delicious, is what i always say), anna made lemon-chicken-basil and french onion soups, and bri rounded it out with barley stew. ck made some wasail. our stove top was full.

and then there were the pies.

chuck brought this kind of pie.

and chad brought this kind of pie.

and there were these pies, too.

athelia helped cut the pies.

everyone ate a lot of pie.

elijah worked the crowd and played with the refrigerator magnets, and baby kyle slept through the whole thing.

some people talked very seriously.

caleb and i had a camera war. (his new camera might have a touch screen, but mine was still faster on the draw.)

there were so many good friends.

my house looked like this.

and i felt so much love.

it was my wildest dreams. and more.

Friday, November 14, 2008

the 'burbs

my friends the cheneys recently abandoned hip, urban living (along with cockroaches and run-ins with the literally insane apartment tenants they were managing, but whatever) for a quiet life in the suburbs. this is good news for them because they get to own a house and have their very own dishwasher. it is bad news for me because the suburbs are past 3300 south.

but driving all that way, past five artic circles and the quilted bear and just emissions and po boyz karpets (no joke on that one) is all worth it because when you get to the suburbs, you get to see this baby.

are you in love? well, too bad, because he's mine.

in the suburbs you also eat breakfast for dinner on a cleverly disguised card table, and watch thursday night tv.

and gas in the suburbs only costs $1.95 a gallon! i guess it's not such a bad place, after all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


i was lulled into a false sense of security this morning when i passed a gas station on my way to work selling the good stuff for $2.16 a gallon and i thought to myself, "times aren't so hard! we could all drive hummers with these gas prices! and the terrorists are losing!"

but then i got to work and read this article about how energy independence is still beyond our grasp and the corn farmers aren't helping, (neither, by the way, are the terrorists), and the universe made sense once again.

on an unrelated note (unless you count high fructose corn syrup and ethanol as being related, which i guess you could), i've been eating a lot of leftover halloween candy lately and, for some reason, the garbage can at my desk has not been emptied and the lingering evidence is, frankly, embarrassing. did i really go through that many fun size packets of skittles yesterday?

wait. don't answer that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

change in which we can believe.

{watching the results come in.}

it has now been one week since barack obama was named the next president of these united states. i know that much has been said and written about how it happened and what it means and that is all fine and good and i don't pretend to have some as-yet-uncharted wisdom to add to the existing punditry. (whew. i am pretty proud of that sentence.) after a week to think it over, though, i would love to tell you what it all means to me.

first, let me say that i am thrilled. i hope i don't get into journalistic trouble here by displaying a bias, but this is the first time in my voting life that my candidate of choice has won, and i feel pretty good about that. when obama came out on stage to give his acceptance speech, i told jess and amy that i thought i might start lactating. and i meant it. that is how happy i was.

i wasn't just happy because my party had won, though, or just because i think john mccain is sort of creepy, or anything like that. i was happy because we, collectively, had taken a step forward, taken a risk, made a new choice and embraced change. i realize that the slogan "change we can believe in" is, ultimately, just campaign cliche (not to mention bad grammar), but the concept of change is a powerful and necessary one, for the country as a whole and for us as individuals, and i was glad to be reminded of that. this election broke through prejudice and cracked the glass ceiling, and that is something i think we should all get behind, no matter how we cast our ballots.

obama had a long and stirring list of change we have already embraced: women reaching for the ballot, and now seeing their own names on the ballot; a depression endured and overcome; civil rights; a wall coming down in berlin. and he reminded us of the necessary change yet to come as we work and sacrifice to save our planet, our jobs, our healthcare, our children's futures. of all the things we work for, positive change for everyone should be top of the list.

and now, one week later, it is the need to embrace change, on all levels, for ourselves and for others, that sticks most in my mind. one of the principles of the gospel, and of life, that i love the most is the idea, the fact, that we can change, that we can and should believe in change. we can put off our bad habits, our prejudices, our misunderstandings. we can learn new skills, new talents, new ways of understanding and communicating. we can become more loving, more patient (still working on that one), more grateful and more graceful. we can do hard things. we can do things we have never done before and we can succeed. we can conquer fears. we can make our weaknesses into strengths. we can evolve and we can get better. and better. and better. because we get to change. that is something i believe.

and i believe in it, too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

hip to be square

i broke one of my personal cardinal rules and ventured south of 3300 south on friday night with heather and cindy(mindypindy), to attend the opening of a non-alcoholic bar in provo, which is just as bizarre as it sounds. the drinks served at non-alcoholic bars, from what i can tell, are various mixtures of different kinds of (soda)pop with limes and sometimes sugar, which are just as delicious (or not) as they sound. if you're into club soda, it just might be your scene.

the really bizarre thing, though, was the overwhelming presence of hipsters. i was, literally, almost paralyzed by the coolness, not to mention my lack of it. there were knit caps and artistic scarves and skater shoes and discussions about indie bands everywhere, and i seriously thought i might get eaten alive by a pair of skinny jeans. i was scared. very scared. i had no idea that this provo even existed. since when do kids in p-town smoke and wear leather? it was all news to me.

after the non-bar opening, we headed over to the hip, cool, new restaurant in town, where you sit on cubes (or rather, hunch, since there is no way to have good posture on those things, and the fact that they are on wheels doesn't help anything) and eat the world's smallest portions of food on the world's hugest dishes. one of the girls at our table said it was just like being in san francisco. i beg to differ. it was more like being inside a satire, except no one was in on the joke. it was incredibly weird. and reminded me of why i have that 3300 south rule in the first place.

so, i gave it a shot, but i think it's safe to say that i won't be venturing back to provo any time soon. the good news is, heather and cindy(mindypindy) are excellent company. and the whole thing seems pretty funny now that the p(rovo)t(raumatic)s(tress)d(isorder) has worn off. (clever, eh? i love that joke.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

frances cake, take 11: the pumpkin isn't just for pie edition

let me tell you a little bit about jeremy.

jeremy is the kind of person who will see a vintage copy of a children's book with your name in the title (in this case, "bread and jam for frances") and buy it for you, just because, even though he doesn't know you very well.

jeremy is the kind of person who hosts watch-cartoons-in-your-pajamas parties. and he has all the good ones, including "he-man" (by the power of gray skull!), "smurfs" and "the gummi bears."

jeremy is the kind of person who was raised by a florist father and a jill-of-all-trades mother, who taught him to value creativity and beauty, so he is the kind of person who is majoring in interior design, but also takes photographs, paints with acryllics and writes children's stories.

jeremy is the kind of person who can tap a bundt pan just right, so your delicious pumpkin cake comes out without a problem.

jeremy is the kind of person who doesn't mind that the cake is a little crispy on the outside. he is the kind of person who says he likes it better that way.

and then, while you eat cake together, jeremy is the kind of person who will talk with you about favorite books, favorite paintings, favorite movies, and about how the creative process is less about what you get at the end and more about what you learn along the way.

in other words, jeremy is my kind of person.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

snow, snow, go away

scraping this stuff off my car yesterday morning was not that awesome.

finding a wad of cash in the pocket of a coat i have not worn since last winter sort of made up for it, though.

(yes, it was mostly $1 bills, but i'll take what i can get.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

have you heard?

there's an election going on. and you should vote in it. because harrison ford says so. and i think we can all agree it's always best to do what harrison ford says.

(warning: i went with the uncensored version this time, because it was way funnier. but, no one panic. there are only two swears and one of them is whispered.)

look, i'll even throw in a song to sweeten the deal.

convinced? bueno.