Friday, August 28, 2009


My roommate has been out of town for two weeks, and left her car parked in our shared driveway. About three days after she left, the neighbors with whom we share said driveway asked us to move the car so they could haul away some junk from their backyard. So, I pulled the car out of the driveway, and parked it a few houses down from ours.
Monday, I come home from work to find my roommates’ car no longer on our street.

I call the police, give them the license plate number, and ask if it’s been towed. They won’t know until tomorrow morning. I call my out-of-town roommate to deliver the bad news. The police will need a notarized affidavit from her authorizing me to get the car out. I give her my office fax number.

I call the police station the next morning. They have no record of the car being towed, and suggest I fill out a theft report. Poop. I fill out a report over the phone, and call my out-of-town roommate to deliver the latest news: her car has been stolen.

During the next hour, as I’m trying to stay focused on all I have to do work-wise, I can’t help but feel like the police made a mistake. What if they just didn’t have the car entered into their system yet? My neighbor said he thought he saw the police come the day before and tow it away.

I decide to call the station again.

I speak to a new person at the station who checks the license plate for me once again. Lo and behold, they did tow it. It’s at their city impound lot. I get the address of the station where I go to pay and pick it up. Then I call out-of-town roommate AGAIN. Just kidding, Roomie! Cracker-jack squad of geniuses we got manning the impound calls, we do.

Pause story for an important note: you may be wondering why it was towed in the first place. AS DID I. I was informed during my first call to the police that there is a city ordinance in Salt Lake which mandates a vehicle parked on a city street must be moved at least every 48 hours or it can be towed. I had left my roommate’s car parked for 3 or 4 days. 99.9% sure that one of my neighbors, not recognizing the car, called it in and had it towed. And because I’m the sap who parked it there, this was my pain in the bum’s aftermath with which to deal. Move the car out of neighborly consideration, get backslapped by another neighbor for doing so, to the tune of $246.

I sneak away during my lunch hour and go to the station. I have the faxed-in copy of the letter authorizing me to pick it up, my ID and my credit card. I wait in line for 45 minutes, and pray no one is having a business crisis and cursing my name. When I finally get to the window, I tell them I have a few questions: 1) where is this 48-hour parking rule posted? 2) how was I to learn of this law? 3) how can I dispute this impound? Answers: 1) it’s not posted anywhere; 2) officer at the window didn’t even know about the 48-hour rule until he started working same window; 3) he gave me a phone number and explained the process of disputing the impound, inferring that he agreed it was ridiculous.

As he begins processing the paperwork, he asks me for proof of insurance on the impounded vehicle. I hear my gut drop a foot into my uterus. I don’t have that. This means…you guessed right…I don’t get to pick up the car. I call my out-of-town roommate and ask her to fax a copy of her insurance card. It goes to voice mail. I have to get back to work, and can’t wait for her call any longer. The car was left to spend another night in the city lot.

This is the night I cried really hard, mainly to relieve the stress of a crazy job and a crazy week. Plus, I’m feeling bad for calling my poor roommate every fifteen minutes, harassing her for faxed documents, while she’s trying to enjoy the last few days of her vacation. Plus PLUS, I’m angry at the City of Salt Lake for making up dumb rules which precipitate eye twitches, sleepless nights, forced overtime, and the transference of money from savings to pay for such dumb rules.

The following day, faxed proof of insurance in hand, I go back to the police station. I go in the morning this time, and it was a smart idea because no one was in line. I fill out the paperwork and hand over my debit card. This is when I find out that the car lot, where the car is parked, is NOT ANYWHERE NEAR WHERE I AM STANDING. In fact, it’s a fifteen minute drive from downtown. Didn’t have time to do that. In the end, I had to involve my entire household just to get the darn car out of Egypt and back on our street before 6:00 p.m. and get to an appointment in Draper by 6:30. Sheer. Madness.

My eye has literally been twitching the entire time I’ve been writing . This is the kind of post I never wanted to write. No creativity, no abstract slant or whimsical anecdote. This is your garden variety story of life at its most futile. This is a gripe post. This is the stuff you listen to when you call your girlfriend/boyfriend and lend a supporting (but be honest, you’re bored senseless) ear. I apologize. There was just too much twitching to come up with something better.

Monday, August 24, 2009


The Participants:
SISTER WEBSTER (“SW”): single woman in her mid-thirties, babysitting GABBY and PARKER
GABBY: Eight year old girl with strong verbal skills and a well-developed sense of irony
PARKER: Five year old boy, precocious, inquisitive, and a surplus of energy

The Setting:

LIVING ROOM (watching Swiss Family Robinson before bedtime)

PARKER: Sister Webster, do you have a baby in your tummy?
SW: No, I don’t have a baby in my tummy.
GABBY: First you need a husband, huh?
SW: Yep, first I need one of those.
PARKER: You could marry your Mom!
SW: No, my Mom’s already married to my Dad.
PARKER: Oh yeah.
SW: Plus, she’s my Mom.
GABBY: Parker, you don’t marry your Mom!
(silly laughter)
GABBY: Do you go to college?
SW: No, I finished college.
GABBY: My mom and dad went to Snow College, and that’s how they met.
SW: That’s nice.
GABBY: I think that’s your problem. If you were still in college you could get a husband.
SW: Hmmm…

(later on…)

PARKER: Sister Webster, how come the mom isn’t swimming with them? (referring to the movie.)
SW: I guess she didn’t want to.
PARKER: Oh. Everybody has their shirts off but the mom. How come the mom doesn’t have her shirt off?
SW: Because she’s not swimming.
PARKER: But even if she did go swimming, she wouldn’t have her shirt off, because then we would see her boobs.
SW: That’s right, Parker.
PARKER: I just said boobs.
SW: (trying not to laugh.) Yes, I heard you. I think the right word is breasts.
PARKER: Oh yeah. It’s breasts. Girls don’t show their breasts because…
SW: Because that’s a private part of girls.
PARKER: Yeah, that’s part of their private parts.
SW: Right.
PARKER: Do you have boobs, Sister Webster?
SW: Yes, I do.
PARKER: But they’re not as big.
GABBY: Parker!
PARKER: No, cuz she’s not a mommy, and she doesn’t have milk in them. That’s what boobs are for. I mean breasts!
SW: No, you’re right Parker, my breasts do not have milk in them.
PARKER: And that’s what they’re for. God puts milk in them to feed the babies. And you don’t have any babies, because you’re not married.
SW: And we’ve come full circle.

Friday, August 21, 2009


One year this month!

This month a year ago, I started a new blog, this blog, and started a new life in Salt Lake City. It still feels very new, and I’m horrified at how fast the time has gone.

I perused the first few postings and smiled at some of the things I wrote. I am grateful. See kids, this is why we blog: we need to document the discovery process, the subtle-moving shifts, and we relish in the experience of reading ourselves in times prior. We see how our selves are shaped. You read what you hoped for then, how those hopes either were met, not met, or evolved over a season or two. You recall what your prayers were, have been, and continue to be, and witness how incredibly true it is that God hears you, and you noticed it not. Not then. We write to notice. I’ll give you an example.

On August 18, 2008, one year and three days ago as of this post, I was becoming more aware of the feelings I would not allow myself to acknowledge, privately or publicly. One effect of this was how it prevented me from feeling more real in my relationships. I wanted to change this:

“Finally, I've reached a place where my need to connect overrides my need to be safe and sound.”
Reading this again, I pictured the exact spot where I wrote that sentence. Sitting at a gate in the Las Vegas airport, adjacent to the slot machines with their relentless bells and flashing lights, dodging the smell of stale beer emanating from the guy sitting to my right, I was waiting for my flight home. I was starting a new life. And while I felt lonely, I felt the excitement of new possibilities:

“I'm hoping this will be the place where I try all this stuff out, all my new
and improved life skills. Push back the temptation to stand alone and
independent, soften, and reach out in openness. Oh man, I really hope I can do
this. “
It makes me laugh reading it! Not in a mean way, just in a pitiful way. And then I ask myself, did I do it? Was I softer, more honest, willing to forego safety for being truer to what I feel and want? Well, I’d have to say yes. This year, the chances at bat were plentiful, and I took way more swings than ever before. I suffered more strikeouts, yes. But I didn’t watch the ball whiz past me as often either. The idea is to act, and not be acted upon. I’m getting better at this, by the grace of God, and it feels pretty good.

Also included in last year’s posts for August was a self-portrait. I’m lying on my back on the twin bed I didn’t end up having to pay for. I held the camera straight above my face and clicked. I looked at the photo again today. My hair is so long! I’m smiling, but there’s something off about it. The captions reads: tired but happy. Really? I’m not buying that. I know this sounds insane, but there seems to be one emotion capture in my right eye, and a different one in my left. My right eye looks pretty hopeful. It’s open and ready. My left eye, I hate to say it, gives away a sadness I was keeping locked down as tight as I could. It’s an old, rather woeful looking eye. But that smile cannot be ripped off my face, not even with fly paper. I look old in this photo, at least that’s the first thing I notice. But when I looked a little deeper, I find a little more. And it pretty much sums up all that was inside, I think.

I’m starting to feel narcissistic, so I better close it up. I just get excited when I think of how it all works out with such astonishing beauty. I’m grateful. I’m glad I blog, because that’s when I notice it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Occasionally when I’m having trouble coming up with something to write about, I’ll harass my friends into giving me a topic. Yesterday it was Slurpees. Today, care of my buddy Linda, I bring you a few ponderings on Heat.

I’ll try not to repeat anything from my previous post, which references summertime, sticking to vinyl, spotty air conditioning, stuff like that. My objective is to go in a new, fresh direction.

I even told Linda, when I asked her for a topic, to make it the first thing off the top of her head, the simpler the better. Linda delivered. It doesn’t get more simple than heat. Well done, Linda. So here it is: my thoughts on heat.

By the way, sometimes when you’re writing about a particular subject, said subject requires at least three short paragraphs of back story or intro to really set the stage adequately. Heat is one of those subjects. There’s just so many different directions you can take it, you must first clarify and narrow it down. You can’t just start writing about heat in the very first sentence. How would your audience stay with you? It’s too broad of a thing. Okay.


That hot thing we like to call heat.

A pregnant woman just walked by. I hear pregnant women overheat more quickly. I bet they could write a blog post about heat, only different from mine. Not better, just different.

Have you ever surprised yourself when you’re hot? Ever sat without a glimmer of apology in an unladylike position just to get a little air circulating in your nether regions? Just me? Okay.

You know what they say about heat? Tell me.

I was reading about this thing called Heat Edema. It’s where your body can’t rid itself fast enough of all the extra sweat and salt the heat is creating in your body, so it goes into your ankles, and they start swelling. I think I’ve had that.

It’s not hot where I work. I wear a sweater all year long at my desk. My cubicle is directly below a four-way air vent. I’ve brought it up with maintenance several times. Were I to close this vent partially, they say, it would throw off the entire climate of the southwest section, potentially overheating the schmucks sitting closer to the windows, where the temperature is always much warmer. In practical terms, what this means is two or three of my sweaters never see the inside of a winter storage container. Sometimes, as a treat to myself, I go and stand in the emergency stairwell, where the temperature is always perfect. I might even sing myself a little song, like that 80’s hit…Aruba, Jamaica, oooh I wanna take ya…

The previous paragraph was not about heat, but the opposite of heat. Hm. Maybe I should have written a fourth introductory/clarifying paragraph.

Most folks at this point in writing a blog post about heat, and failing miserably, would simply give up. “I’m not inspired to write about heat,” they'd say. “Leave it to the geologists who study the earth’s crust,” or perhaps they’d blame their writer’s block on fuel emissions and carbon waste. But not I. I can write (and write well) about anything, anytime. Yes, I may be feeling the heat. But is there a better, or more on-point sensation to feel for such a task as this? Hellfire, no.

Last month I was down in the Dominican. It was pretty hot down there.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Slurpees are a part of summertime like fingers are a part of hands. Slurpees could be the perfect small-scale model of everything summertime is and should be: sweet, sticky, refreshing, something to look forward to, and lastly, difficult to slurp when your straw reaches the bottom and all the Slurpee is sticking to the sides of the cup. That’s when you remove the dome lid, swish the half-melted liquid around in a circular motion, reposition the straw, and resume enjoyment. It is this last point upon which I will direct my thoughts today.

When you first walk out of the 7-11 with your Slurpee, life feels immediately easier. Slurpee consistency is perfect. Love is in the air, and nothing will ever, ever go wrong in your life again. That sweetness hits your tongue, and all at once, the world around you slows to the casual pace of your slurping. The slushy goodness glides up that green straw with effortless ascension, requiring minimum suckage, yielding maximum satisfaction. You forget your propensity to stress over rent, relationships, or robot invasions. Your body fills with cold, sweetened ice, and in your mind you hear Sly & the Family Stone’s Hot Fun in the Summertime vamping. Your hips start to swing a little as you walk down the street. Everyone you pass is your friend. All the lights say “Walk,” and a twenty dollar bill drops from the sky and adheres to the condensation of your GI Joe Slurpee cup. Slurpees are money. A Slurpee is freedom in a cup. If there were an open fire hydrant flooding out its contents upon laughing children, you’d drop your bag and run to join them, splendiferous cup of freedom in hand. Yeah, it’s that good when you first leave the 7-11.

Ten minutes later…

You’re back in your car which is twenty degrees hotter than outside. Your skins sticks to the vinyl, and there’s nothing good on the radio. You grab your sweaty cup and slurp air. Another red light - jeez! Swish, swish. You angle the straw to “more verdant pastures” where Slurpee still stubbornly clings, but the color's gone out of it some. You're sucking a bit harder now, literally and otherwise.

Fifteen minutes later…

You’re in a crowded parking lot, people trying to kill you, and you’re ready to intentionally bash into a bumper or two. Your AC is spotty, and you can’t spare a hand at the moment to get rid of (oh kill me now) Smashmouth. The Slurpee? The Slurpee is now just a non-carbonated syrup filling up the bottom two inches of your GI Joe cup, oozing sticky crud that’s bleeding on to the cup holder. Waiting while a car backs out of a spot, you steal a sip, then immediately wonder why the hell you did that. Blauchglk!

What happened? Where’s Sly? Where's the laughing, soggy children? It was only fifteen minutes ago, and so much has changed. Sly is now a synthesized arrangement of Gloria Estefan as you search the Wal-Mart aisles for the best deal on deodorant. The children have been caged into shopping carts, screaming their lungs and faces raw. You faintly remember the good times, that first step out of 7-11, that marvelous frozen delight in tote. You loved that Slurpee. But that doesn’t mean you’re ready to go back there right now and grab another. It would make you sick! The truth is, we need a little life without Slurpees in order to appreciate them in their full majesty, as nature intended. So it is with summertime.

We’re nearing the end of a glorious season – the Slurpee season. And while so much of me grieves this impending transition, this temporary farewell to warm nights and cherry red-stained tongues, I square my jaw and face the music. Through fall and winter I will endure what is necessary to ensure my cherry Slurpee of May 2010 is a good one – one for the books.

(This post is dedicated to the recently nuptualed Julie Hulet Keller, fellow Slurpee enthusiast and muse.)