Thursday, October 28, 2010

THE EVENT: a report

It was pretty much just awesome-ness all the way, kids! From the bomb-sniffing dog to the cute guys in uniforms to the stoic-faced secret service persons to the good-natured customers who stood in line and turned it into a party to the super efficient TKE employees to the fabulous and unflaggingly gracious Mr. Carter himself, the whole day just rocked.


In particular Jenny, Rachel and Anne should be proud of themselves. What super-cool organizing and arranging and possibly even secret ninja-like skills they all have! And let me give a shout out to Sally L. who was so impressive that an actual secret service person pulled Sally away from her post and asked her to shuffle people into the next room because she was just such an authoritative-do-not-mess-with-me presence. From here on out, Sally L. will only answer to the name THE OFFICIAL ENFORCER OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Jimmy Carter

Hey, guys, I'm working the Carter event at the bookstore today. I'll be outside from 9-2, managing lines and keeping people happy. Mostly I'm just worried about staying warm. Should be an interesting day.

Speaking of the cold--my boy Dylan mentioned his cute wife, Julie, slipped and fell because of snow issues the other day. Julie is like me--she HATES to be cold, whereas Dylan is his father redux. He's all BRING ON THE SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES, BABY, BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN I REALLY FEEL ALIVE. Knowing this, I told Dylan that Julie will hold him personally responsible for winter for the rest of their married lives.

I know this because I blame Ken every time it freaking snows.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Sara said yesterday

Because you know how Sara is. SO savvy. I must needs quote her often.

Anyway, while we were at work yesterday, I received some discouraging news on the family front. Sara was there to hear me take the phone call. And later she said aren't you grateful that we have this? THIS, of course, is the writing part--the thing that you and I do to express and escape and impose order on all manner of unruliness.

Yes. I'm grateful for it. Even when it's frustrating, which it often is. But still.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

We have that on our e-mail at TKE--"What I'm Reading Now"--and really I'm always so impressed with fellow employees. I feel like I'm in the remedial reading group (let's call ourselves "the Bluebirds," shall we?) compared to them.

BUT! I just finished NAKED ONCE MORE by Elizabeth Peters. Peters writes a smart, sassy mystery, so that was good times. And now I'm reading a new YA novel by an actual YA. It's edgy--plenty o' sex and profanity. But I'm reading it because I'm interested in what an actual YA chooses to emphasize in terms of issues. I'd say this novel deals mostly with the desire and search for self-worth.

On the non-fiction front I'm dipping into STATUS ANXIETY by Alain de Botton. The first three pages have been very interesting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ann's column

Again, Ann still hasn't joined the 21st century, so her favorite son, Geoffrey, is setting up a link to her column this week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Festival!

So I had this experience today at the festival--I started reading the first chapter of THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE aloud and I suddenly went DAMN! THIS SOUNDS BETTER THAN I REMEMBERED! Do you ever have this experience? By the time you finish a project you're pretty sick of it and you're also pretty sure it stinks. And so you never look at it again. In fact, you avoid making eye contact with it out of sheer embarrassment like it's a family member that's going to make a fool out of himself or herself in front of a large group of people, thereby forcing you to lie and say WE'RE NOT RELATED before slipping out of a back door.

Yeah. That's how I feel about my books in general and this one in particular (because it's the newest). But after reading CHIHUAHUA aloud today, I thought to myself HEY! I would have enjoyed this as a kid! It was a nice moment.

Another nice moment today--a leetle girl walked past The King's English table and squealed, "MOM! LOOK! EYEBALLS AND BOOKS!" She was referring to the eyeball soaps we're selling for Halloween.

Oh, eyeballs. I love you so.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Festival!

So tomorrow I'm speaking/reading from THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE at 12:30 at the downtown library. There will be signings with fancy pens after. Drop by to say hi if you're in the area.

Also, I'm introducing Treat Williams and his new picture book for kids at 5:00. I. AM. SO LUCKY!

Brigham City

Thanks to librarian extraordinaire Sue Hill and the Utah Humanities Council, I spent a lovely evening in Brigham City talking about books and boys and how to connect the two. I enjoy these trips so much. I always meet people who know so much more than I do about the subject, and I leave feeling enriched.

BONUS POINTS! My parents offered to be my roadies this time. They schlepped in boxes of books before the event and held up cigarette lighters and roared their approval after the event. Also, we had dinner at Maddox. Dude. I am just all over that seafood cocktail.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rethinking the -ly words

So if you go to a writers' conference these days you'll probably be told that ADVERBS ARE EVIL. Like, they're the Voldemorts of the Parts of Speech. Go through your manuscripts, your teachers will tell you, and ZAP THOSE EVIL ADVERBS INTO OBLIVION WITH YOUR HARRY POTTER WANDS.

And that's not such bad advice. Really, you should find a kickass verb to do the work for you and then you won't need an adverb. EXCEPT! Lately, I've been noticing how British writers still use adverbs. Quite a lot, actually. They just slather them on the way we used to slather on the baby oil when we went sunbathing back in the day before skin cancer was invented. And, people, the evil adverbs kinda work when people with cool English accents use them.

Here's another time when the adverb worked for me. Lisa B. sent me a link to a blog where the author remembers how her mother wouldn't let her eat some cake, so she went outside in a fit of pique to play with her toys "vengefully." Could there BE a better description? "Vengefully" carries the day.

Which means I have to re-think the whole adverb thing, I guess. So that's what I'm doing right now. Thinking. Thoughtfully.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Feeling GRUMPY

NOT to be judgmental or anything, but I'm feeling kinda annoyed with the guys announcing the Dallas/Vikings game right now. They're pretty much circling the wagons around Favre, who's recently been accused of sexually harassing a female Jets employee.

MEMO TO GRANDPA FAVRE: Dude. Did you really think you could get away with sexting these days? Only someone who's really OLD would think that. Oh. WAIT.

Anyway, the announcers are all he's a player's player, he always shows up for the game even if his dad is dying and his wife has breast cancer, it's none of our business what he does off the field, we're not here to talk about people's morals anyway, blah blah blah.

All of this may be perfectly true. And no one admires a damn good player more than I do. But implicit in all of this inane announcer banter is (I think) a condemnation of the woman involved somehow, to which I can only say no one should have to put up with a pass from Favre (you saw this coming) EXCEPT HIS RECEIVERS.

Friday, October 15, 2010

feeling like a five year old

Last night Ken, Geoff and I went to one of those yogurt stores where they give you a bucket and you fill it up and then they charge you $9.00 and you go, "Wow!" and also "Whoops! Did I really plan to spend that much money on yogurt this evening?"

But that's NOT the point. The point is that while we were sitting at a table together, I noticed Ken and Geoff were staring HARD at me and finally Ken went, "Did you cut your own bangs?"

Which, of course, I had. But really it's probably not a good sign when your husband asks you that question in the first place, and in the second place your son bursts out laughing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do you ever

. . . read something you think you SHOULD love? But you kinda don't? I'm having that experience right now with DARK STAR by Alan Furst who is hugely respected on the literary thriller front. The whole time I'm reading this book I'm thinking, yes! It's true! Furst is freaking brilliant as a stylist and as a historian!

But I just haven't been swept up into the book the way I want to be. It's like reading a Russian novel. I have to keep going back to see who is who. Furst would probably take that as a compliment.

Any books ever affect you this way? Which ones?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Hey, kids! I'm in Vernal, preparing for my presentation tomorrow at the library here. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to travel to small Utah towns, courtesy of the Utah Humanities Council. Just toured the library and it's really fantastic--very inviting in every way. Well played, Vernal! I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Anyhoo. Whenever I travel like this, I always eat dinner at a local diner, and I have come to this conclusion: the food is never as wonderful as I want it to be. Diners pretty much serve food like Lamb's, a Salt Lake institution for decades, which (nonetheless) serves fruit cocktail from a can. JUST LIKE OUR MOMS USED TO. M-m-m-m-m. Home cookin'! (Literally.)

There's a certain kind of nostalgic comfort to be derived from this kind of food, I suppose--if you can manage to dial down your expectations.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad Writing Contest

Here is the link to my column, outlining this year's Bad Writing Contest.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 80th birthday

That's right. My dad's turning 80 tomorrow, so my mom is having us down for a fam party tonight. She wanted us each to write something, so I'm using my blog to get it done. It'll be long. Feel free to skip.


I love the way he . . .

1. loves my mom
2. laughs at my jokes
3. enjoys music of all kinds
4. opens single-wrap cheese slices with his Swiss army knife
5. steals mints from the Cinegrill
6. crinkles up his entire face and shakes with silent laughter when something strikes him as funny
7. talks to the poodle, Jacque
8. used to wave good-bye to the Norwegian Elkhound, Thorina
9. likes to shop for clothes for himself
10. likes to shop for clothes for others
11. takes my boys golfing
12. does his own ironing
13. makes oatmeal and Eggos for the grandkids at the beach
14. wears groovy sunglasses
15. treats us to lunch at Joe Vere’s
16. puts on a fishing hat and reads for hours at the beach
17. listens when you have a problem and just want to talk
18. knows how to pick out the ripest plums
19. gets a kick out of “O Brother Where Art Thou” no matter how many times he sees it
20. grows flowers like daylilies, asters, impatiens, primroses and rose roses
21. landscapes with “rock”
22. makes his in-laws feel like family
23. used to take my grandpa and buy him a Wendy burger before football games on Saturday
24. calls a mean Bingo game
25. texts me when I’m taking a ride in a hot air balloon
26. drops little letters of encouragement to the people he loves
27. puts salt on apples
28. refuses to take himself too seriously
29. refuses to take other people too seriously
30. sees the humor in a headline like “Emotions Run High at the LaVerkin Liquor Hearing”
31. takes care of old friends like Devan

I love that he taught me how to . . .

32. swim
33. turn a cartwheel
34. throw a softball so I could get the Presidential Fitness Award in the sixth grade
35. swing a golf club
36. put someone in a Half Nelson
37. plant shrubs
38. enjoy good Mexican food
39. enjoy good sourdough bread
40. treat people with respect no matter their background
41. have a confrontation without turning it mean and ugly
42. start a fire with newspaper and lighter fluid
43. play “Nickels Up” (Grandma helped!)
44. say hello in Japanese

I am grateful when I was a kid that he . . .

45. provided me with opportunities to travel, especially to London when I was in college
46. made me feel smart
47. wasn’t harsh where religion was concerned
48. welcomed my friends into our home
49. took us (sometimes) to Sizzler on Sunday
50. worked on graduate degrees, thus teaching us the importance of formal education and the value of life-long learning
51. stopped me from saying something hurtful to a boy I was dating
52. took us to San Francisco once a year to get our teeth fixed

I still like it when he tells stories about . . .

53. army days
54. other coaches
55. players
56. my mother
57. Uncle Wayne and Uncle Lewis
58. peddling fruit
59. Doc Dewey’s car
60. initiations for Sigma Nu

Words I would use to describe my dad

61. loyal
62. witty
63. kind
64. wise
65. stoic
66. steady
67. silly

I think of my dad whenever I hear

68. “Abide with Me”
69. “O My Father”
70. “O Holy Night”
71. “The Lonely Bull”
72. “Amazing Grace”
73. Willie Nelson
74. C.C.R.
75. the Beaver Fight Song
76. bagpipes
77. a quarterback shouting an audible

I won’t forget . . .

78. how he used to visit me in the hospital on his lunch hour
79. how he and my mom brought soup to Becky’s house the day she died
80. how he manages to always make me feel like the most important person in the room

Happy birthday, Dad. Couldn’t love you more.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This is what my mom said about someone else's dog

"I think she has Asberger's."

And my mom said this kindly, with real concern for the animal.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sensory overload

Yesterday was one of those days in which I had many, many, MANY lifetimes, one of which included a fashion show at the Town Club on South Temple. (The Town Club is sort of a female version of the Alta Club, although females can now join the Alta Club. But whatever. It's not like that's the world I reside in anyway.)

At any rate, the models wandered amongst us with their super fancy outfits (basically the look was Clothes as Architecture) in a variety of uber tactile fabrics and here's the thing. I LIKE TO TOUCH. I do! Whenever I encounter fibers at the store I have to seriously maul them before committing to a relationship. So it was really, really hard NOT TO MAUL THE MODELS and their cashmere-y, suede-y, nubby knit-y, fake pony print-y clothes. I had to sit on my hands and it was distressing and I knew as soon as the show was over there would be an orgy of touching things on my walk home.

I got an early start in re the touching part. When the show was over, I reached across the table to touch the centerpiece to see if those were real cabbage leaves (they weren't), and as I withdrew my hands I knocked a full glass of ice water into my lap. The water splashed up and even made my glasses spotty.

There was stunned silence.

And I almost said, "You think THIS is bad? Once I set the table on fire at the Dodo."

Good times.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Because Sara Z said

Sara periodically mentions I oughta link to my d-news column every Monday. Or Tuesday if I forget to on Monday. So I'm going to give it a try.

Meanwhile I'll try to remember what I wanted to say about obituary pictures . . .

Here is the column.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Question for the day

So I got this fancy catalog in the mail this week peddling all kinds of things, including a cheesecake. Here's the description: "Incredibly creamy Madagascar vanilla cheesecake on a shortbread macadamia nut crust--and stunningly topped with a bounty of Fall fruits handcrafted in imported chocolate. 8" diameter. 4.5 lbs. Made in USA."

Guess how much it costs. Did you guess $120.00? Because then you would be right. So here's my question for the day: is any cheesecake worth $120.00? Not including shipping?

Seriously, if I had $120.00 to BLOW, I would totally order this cheesecake just to see.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I think it's always risky to re-read a book you once passionately loved--especially something you read when you were young. In my experience, re-reading is often a recipe for disaster. But I'd been in the mood to revisit Middle Earth, and so on Bilbo's birthday, September 22, I began listening to THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING on tape. (DISCLAIMER: the September 22 thing was purely accidental. I can't remember my family's birthdays let alone Bilbo's.)

Anyhoo. I'm happy to report that I've enjoyed the journey again. The quest archetype has always spoken to me, and I'm still enthralled by the story's nature imagery. Middle Earth is suffused with starlight, and because I am the kind of person who steps outside every night just to look at the moon, I love that.

I will say this, though. When I first read FELLOWSHIP as a romantic sixteen year old girl, I thought Strider was dead sexy--all dark and moody-broody and probably leanly muscular because of all that wandering around the Misty Mountains he did. I LOVED him. I wanted him to forget Arwen, invite ME to the prom, and whisper the lyrics of "Pieces of April" in my ear.

But now I find Strider kind of pedantic--always reeling off loooooooong-winded stories about his ancestors and so on. Yawn. Also snore. Dude, I want to tell him. Lose the boring elf stories and stick with swordplay so I can get all weak in the knees about you again.

I doubt he'll listen to me.